Off You Go (10/1), who is highlighted as a hurdler to follow on page 155 of One Jump Ahead, made a winning return to action in a two mile handicap hurdle at Galway. Returning from an absence of 266 days and carrying top weight, the five year old belied a marked drift in the betting to win a shade cosily by a length and a quarter. Racing off a mark of 134, he is now ante-post favourite with some firms for the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham next month. It is hoped he heads to Prestbury Park in mid November. The gelded son of Presenting remains unexposed and is progressing at a rate of knots. Charles Byrnes as a quality horse on his hands.
Felix Desjy was in the Top 40 Prospects last season and he developed into a smart bumper performer finishing sixth at the Cheltenham Festival, despite racing far too freely. Gordon Elliott's former Irish pointer made his hurdling debut at Galway and he never came out of second gear to win hard held by ten lengths. In addition to jumping slickly, the five year old settled much better over obstacles than he did last spring which bodes well for his long-term future. The Grade 1 Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse early in December could be an option and he won't look out of place in such a field.
Strong Glance (5/2) made it two wins from three starts in the concluding bumper at Cheltenham on Saturday landing some tidy bets in the process. Fergal O'Brien's gelding hadn't been disgraced in a Listed event at Ascot before Christmas but has been sidelined ever since. Fitness wasn't an issue though as he stayed on strongly to get the better of another previous winner Master Debonair by half a length. From the family of Hennessy Gold Cup winner Strong Flow, he will presumably go hurdling now and will be suited by two and a half miles plus.
For Good Measure caught the eye in the opening handicap chase at Cheltenham. The full brother to former stablemate Balthazar King was only having his third run over fences. Racing off a mark of 132 (compared to 137 over hurdles), he was held up by Tom O'Brien and wasn't subjected to an aggressive ride as he stayed on past beaten horses to finish a promising fifth, over twenty lengths behind the winner Relentless Dreamer. Runner-up at Cheltenham twice over hurdles, he is still a novice but it will be interesting to see if he is given an entry in the three miles three handicap chase at the November meeting - Philip Hobbs has won the race twice (Gold Cup (1994) & Sausalito Sunrise (2015)). The seven year old is handicapped to win a good staying prize this season and, long-term, he could develop into a National horse.
On the Flat, it was pleasing to see Young Rascal win for the fourth time in five starts this year even though he was forced to share the prize in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes at Newbury having been joined on the line by Morando. The Intello colt failed to fire in the Epsom Derby but, following a break, he has returned to his best with two victories at the Berkshire track. William Haggas and his team have done a terrific job with the three year old giving him time to recover after his Epsom disappointment and not rushing him back into action. Such patience is already being rewarded and he is a fine prospect for next year when he is likely to step up in trip.
I am working at Aintree tomorrow with the Old Roan Chase being the feature. Cloudy Dream was unfortunate not to win the two and a half miles event last year and he bids to go one better on his first run for Donald McCain. The Cheshire trainer sent out a welcome winner at Kelso on Saturday following a lean run by his usual high standards (1 winner from 28 runners in the last fortnight). It promises to be an excellent days racing - I will be back to update the Diary shortly.
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