It is a relatively quiet start to the week for National Hunt fans with a sole meeting at Ayr on Monday and Southwell on Tuesday. Both Nicky Richards and Lucinda Russell were responsible for a brace of winners at the former venue.
The most interesting race on the card was the two miles three novice hurdle which was won narrowly by Irish import Famous Bridge. A half-brother to Cheltenham Festival winner Tellmesomethinggirl, the five year old had finished third in a point-to-point bumper during the spring when trained by Damian Murphy. Owned by the late Trevor Hemmings, the Fame And Glory gelding was transferred to Richards' Greystoke yard during the late summer and shaped nicely on his hurdles debut at Carlisle last month. He built on that here when leading close home from compatriot High Stakes. A head winner, he was tapped for speed before the homestraight but stayed on strongly to reel in Warren Greatrex's runner-up. He will be better suited by further and is very much a three miles chaser in the making.
The runner-up won four of his five point-to-points in Ireland before landing a bumper at Wexford in March when handled by Eddie Walsh. The seven year old was subsequently bought for £85,000 in September before joining Greatrex. A gelded son of Scorpion, he ensured it was a proper test at the trip and looked the most likely winner jumping the last. Caught in the shadows of the post, he reportedly likes to dominate and will have no trouble staying three miles later in the season. Compensation awaits once upped in distance.
Despite only filling fifth position, nearly twenty lengths behind Famous Bridge, there was a lot to like about the performance of Monte Igueldo. Featured in the Top 40, the ex-French gelding filled the same position on his British debut for Olly Greenall at Wetherby in October. Stepped up in trip here, the four year old was held up by Henry Brooke before making smooth headway approaching the end of the backstraight. Very much in contention on the run to the third last, his effort petered out from that point onwards. It is difficult to conclude whether he didn't stay the trip or, like a lot of his stablemates, failed to finish off his race. His Cheshire yard sent out a welcome winner at Doncaster on Saturday but still aren't in top form - 1 winner from 48 runners in October & 1 from 34 in November. Following one more run, the Cokoriko gelding will be handicapped and, once his team strike form, he could be a well treated young hurdler.
Famous Bridge (5/2) is featured in One Jump Ahead and so, too, is stablemate Gege Ville (17/2) who made a winning start to his career in the bumper. Nicky Richards spoke favourably about the five year old on page 125 having shown promise in his work last year. Given a patient ride, he came with a strong run inside the final furlong to win going away by a length and three quarters and, in doing so, provided his young jockey Conor Rabbitt with his first winner.
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