Following the disappointing news last week that Arkle Trophy fancy Draconien has been ruled out for the season, I was hoping for a change of fortune. However, the run of bad luck continued in no uncertain terms at Wetherby on Wednesday with Extra Mag (14/1) hitting the deck after the final flight when seemingly in control in the two miles novices' hurdle. Featured in the French Revolution - Part II section in the November Update, David Pipe's four year old was making his British debut. Held up by Tom Scudamore, the Kapgarde gelding cruised through the race before hitting the front at the second last. Ironically, he jumped the last very well only to knuckle over on landing - Tom Scudamore's face afterwards said it all. He looks a smart novice and hopefully this hiccup won't affect his confidence. Unfortunately, Extra Mag won't be 14/1 next time he lines up.
Talking of the Arkle, there is every possibility Mengli Khan will develop into Ireland's leading hope for the two mile event next March. The former Hugo Palmer trained gelding was a Grade 1 winner over hurdles before finishing third in the Skybet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last spring. Switched to fences, Gordon Elliott's charge was a ten lengths winner on his chasing bow at Punchestown under Davy Russell. Due to the high winds, the runners missed out three fences down the backstraight. As regards his jumping, he really attacked a couple of fences and gained lengths in the air during the first half of the race. However, he got in tight to the last three and I wasn't as impressed as the bookmakers who shortened the five year old to 6 and 7/1 for the Arkle. Bought for 155,000gns a couple of years ago, he is not bred to be a chaser being by Lope De Vega and a half-brother to ill-fated Breeders' Cup winner Chriselliam. Such a pedigree doesn't scream an Arkle winner but then again stablemate is by Authorized and wasn't bred to win a Grand National.
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