Thyme Hill, an unlucky in running fourth in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, threw his hat into the ring for the stayers' hurdle crown with an emphatic win in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday. Philip Hobbs' gelding, who won the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at the track last December, was tackling three miles for only the second time and saw out the trip well as he beat last year's winner Paisley Park by a length and a half. The Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot next month is likely to be his next assignment. The runner-up ran a cracker under a penalty, while McFabulous may not have enjoyed the steady early pace and shouldn't be written off just yet. Paul Nicholls' charge may have looked a non stayer but I am not convinced that was the reason for his demise. The Grade 2 Cleeeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January is expected to be his next port of call.
All eyes were on Flinteur Sacre in the opening two miles maiden hurdle but the full-brother to Sprinter Sacre spoilt his chance by racing too keenly and jumping poorly. Beaten seven and a quarter lengths in fourth, the five year old had reportedly schooled well at home and was fully expected to win on his jumping debut. However, it went wrong from the outset and it was simply too bad to be true. He must be better than he showed here. The race went the way of the once raced My Drogo (100/30), who was nominated as a horse to follow in the November Update. As discussed, Dan Skelton described the Milan gelding as 'exceptional' when I spoke to Paul Nicholls' former assistant at Aintree this month and he looks a highly promising five year old. Despite a few indifferent jumps, he quickened up well on the run-in and is value for more than the winning margin of a length and a quarter. His trainer is already thinking in terms of the Listed Sidney Banks Memorial Novices' Hurdle at Huntingdon in February. He is a horse with a big future.
It was a good day overall for the November Update with Hill Sixteen (11/10) winning the concluding handicap hurdle. A 46 lengths winner over fences at Ffos Las last week on his first run for Nigel Twiston-Davies off a three pounds higher mark, the seven year old was stepping up to three miles over timber and he stayed on strongly to reel in the useful Lil Rockerfeller by a length. Due to race off a twelve pounds higher mark over fences and ten pounds over hurdles in future, he was been a shrewd acquistion having been purchased as part of Trevor Hemmings' dispersal sale for £46,000 in September. Even though his latest win was gained on good ground, he is an even better one on a soft surface.
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