Apologies - its been a while since I have updated the Diary. It is always a pleasure to go to Aintree and it was good to be back there last Sunday for their first meeting of the season. Dan Skelton and his dual Grade 1 winner Allmankind captured the main event of the day, the Grade 2 Old Roan Chase, with another gutsy front running display. Rated 160, he became the first five year old to win the two and a half miles event and only the third horse to carry 11st 10lb to victory - the legendary Kauto Star and Monet's Garden were the other pair. The Grade 1 Melling Chase over the same C&D next spring is his ultimate target and will only have one or possibly two races beforehand because Skelton is keen to keep the Gredley owned gelding fresh for April.
In addition to viewing the excellent action, I had the opportunity to speak to Dan about some of the horses featured in One Jump Ahead. I will pass on that information in the first Update - the November edition. I also chatted to Harry Derham, assistant to Paul Nicholls about a few of the champion trainer's string, in particular his exciting bunch of juvenile hurdlers.
The Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead has made its customary slow start with the first three runners suffering defeat, although a couple of them shaped encouragingly. However, Iron Bridge (9/2) provided the section with its first victory at Ffos Las on Thursday. Available at 10/1 during the morning, the former Damian Murphy trained gelding won the second division of the two and a half miles maiden hurdle. Revelling in the testing conditions, the five year old was taken wide by Richie McLernon before leading at the second last. Keeping on well, he was pushed out for a two and a half lengths win. Trained by Jonjo O'Neill, he became the first horse to carry the famous green, yellow and white silks of the late Trevor Hemmings to victory since his legendary owner's passing earlier this month. Fair play to Trevor's racing manager Mick Meagher who pointed me in the right direction regarding Iron Bridge when we spoke during the summer. Mick said the Milan gelding isn't the quickest and a proper three miler in the making but described him 'as a lovely model.' Granted luck, he will develop into a smashing staying chaser one day.
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