Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Cheltenham Review

27-October-2023 18:26
in General
by Admin

Cheltenham's two day showcase meeting kicked on Friday and there were some useful performances in the two novice hurdles. Encanto Bruno had impressed when winning a bumper at the meeting twelve months ago before finding conditions too testing in the Festival championship event in March. The Mahler gelding had not been seen since pulling up in a novice hurdle at the Galway Festival in August in which time he had been transferred from John McConnell to Gavin Cromwell. Returning from a break of 85 and tackling the two and a half miles novice hurdle, he was given a confident ride by Keith Donoghue and barely came off the bridle to beat compatriots Mel Monroe and Tag Man by upwards of two lengths. The five year old doesn't want the ground too slow and is therefore likely to be given a mid winter break before being aimed at the spring Festivals. While he is likely to be given entries in the Sky Bet Supreme and Ballymore Novice Hurdles at Cheltenham in March, he appeals as an ideal type for the County Hurdle. A strongly run two miles on the New course at Prestbury Park would be ideal - he needs to have one more run over timber to qualify. 

The feature event was Grade 2 Sky Bet Novices' Hurdle, which was previously run at the November meeting. Lookaway was a high-class bumper performer a couple of seasons ago winning the Grade 2 championship race at Aintree. However, in keeping with the rest of Neil King's string last winter, the former Irish pointer struggled and failed to fire in three runs over timber. Having gained a couple of confidence boosting victories at Uttoxeter in May against inferior opposition, the six year old returned to his best here with a commanding performance under Jack Quinlan. Making all the running, he was never seriously threatened and was value for his near three lengths winning margin. Officially rated 122, he will be reassessed and, even with a hefty rise, connections must be tempted to have a crack at the Greatwood Hurdle over C&D next month (19th November). 

Congratulations to Freddie Gordon who rode his first winner at the home of National Hunt racing when 'steering' his father's Our Champ to a bloodless win in the opening conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle. Not a bad way to celebrate your 18th birthday. Based with Nicky Henderson, it is a day Freddie will never forget. 


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