Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Weekend Review

28-November-2021 10:52
in General
by Admin

There was something of an upset in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday with Cloudy Glen winning the prestigious event at odds of 33/1. A former winner of the Southern National, the Venetia Williams trained gelding was making his reappearance and having his first run since undergoing wind surgery. I recall fancying the eight year old for the Grand National Trial at Haydock last season but he swerved that engagement and ran lamentably at Ascot on the same afternoon instead - he is that sort of horse, very capable on his day but equally inconsistent. However, the Cloudings gelding put his best foot forward and stayed on well to provide the late Trevor Hemmings with his fourth win in the three and a quarter miles event.

The result could well have been different though had a couple either or both Enrilo and Remastered stayed on their feet. It was too far out to say where the former would have finished having departed at the fourteenth but nothing was going better than the latter when he took a horrible fall at the fourth last. The Pond House team are enduring a frustrating spell at present with Adagio being narrowly denied in the Greatwood Hurdle, too, earlier this month.

Ahoy Senor was a wide margin winner of the Grade 2 novice chase over three miles and, in doing so, booked a rematch with old rival Bravemansgame in the forthcoming Grade 1 Kauto Star Novices' Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. It promises to be a mouth watering clash. Lucinda Russell's former UK pointer is already a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and looks set to reach similar heights over the larger obstacles. While he didn't handle the water jump too well - probably the first time he had encountered one - his fencing was largely very good and stamina looks his strong suit. The runner-up Mr Incredible was particularly disappointing and never looked happy from an early stage. Irish point expert Declan Phelan made the point that Henry De Bromhead's charge is highly strung and it is possible he didn't take the travel too well, similar to stablemate Notebook who has never performed well on these shores either. Take nothing away from the winner though, he is a high-class staying chaser in the making despite an indifferent pedigree.

It was pleasing to see Elle Est Belle (2/1) record her first win over hurdles in the Listed mares' event which commenced the card. Dan Skelton's mare boasted some top-class bumper form last spring but was reportedly in need of the run when only third on her jumping bow at the same track earlier this month. Much sharper on this occasion, her jumping was slicker and I suspect she had the measure of Nina The Terrier when Alan King's filly hit the floor at the last. The daughter of Fame And Glory has the Dawn Run Mares' Novice Hurdle at Cheltenham in March as he ultimate target in March and she will be suited by the stiff New course at Prestbury Park. Longer-term, she is likely to be seen to best advantage over two and a half miles. She is a smart mare and another good one for the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead.

Team Skelton were amongst the winners at Newcastle, too, with Too Friendly making it two wins from as many starts over timber when readily scoring in the Introductory Juvenile Hurdle. Featured in the Changing Codes section of OJA, the 85 rated Flat performer had won on his hurdles debut at Stratford in October before being withdrawn from the Listed Wensleydale Hurdle at Wetherby later the same month. Back in action at Gosforth Park, the Camelot gelding proved a class above his opponents in tough conditions. Once again, his jumping was good and he is well above average. Owned by the Gredley Family, the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow (27th December) may be an option - the same connections won it with Allmankind a couple of years ago - but I am not convinced he wants a bog. Either way, he is capable of winning Graded prizes this winter.

Having suggested The Ferry Master as the ideal type for the Rehearsal Chase, I was disappointed with his finishing effort. Having jumped well for the first circuit and a half, Sandy Thomson's gelding looked primed to run a big race approaching the final mile. However, he produced a laboured effort thereafter keeping on at one pace in fifth. Never a threat in the homestraight to the first two, perhaps he needs a stiffer test of stamina and would have been better off waiting a week and running in the Borders National at Kelso early next month. The winner Aye Right deserved his day in the sun following a series of near misses in the good races last term. It is hoped Harriet Graham elects to enter the eight year old in the Grand National next spring. At the age of eight and winning here off a mark of 151, now is the right time to have a crack at the big one. Fingers crossed connections don't go for the soft option and run in the Scottish version instead, which is run before the Aintree one for the first time this season. 

On Sunday, I was due to work at Carlisle but unfortunately the inclement weather put paid to my trip north. Thankfully, there was some excellent racing at Fairyhouse where Champion Hurdle winner Honeysuckle won the Grade 1 Hattons Grace Hurdle for a third consecutive year. An eight lengths winner, Henry De Bromhead's mare was extending her unbeaten sequence to fourteen as she outclassed some smart rivals. Her connections indicated afterwards that the seven year old will follow an identical path this winter with the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in February expected to be her next port of call before returning to Cheltenham the following month. On this evidence, she looked better than ever.

I was delighted to see Fil Dor make it two out of two since joining Gordon Elliott in the Grade 3 juvenile hurdle. Highlighted as a horse to follow in the French Revolution section in OJA, the grey had made a lasting impression on his Irish debut at Down Royal in late October. Upped in class here, he passed his latest test with flying colours as he got the better of Noel Meade's Lunar Power by a length and a quarter. One got the impression, he had plenty in hand on ground which was deemed quick enough for him. There is a possibility the Doctor Dino gelding will head to Chepstow for the aforementioned Finale Juvenile Hurdle. It will take a very good horse to beat him.

Similar to Newcastle on Saturday, the card concluded with a dead heat, this time in the bumper. Royal Romeo, who shared the spoils with point winner Kilbunny Pontic, had previously finished a distant second behind Top 40 entry American Mike on his debut at Down Royal. It was therefore an encouraging form boost for Gordon Elliott's charge. I know plenty of subscribers are already on the ante-post favourite for the Cheltenham Festival bumper at tasty odds. 



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