Nicky Henderson has had some top-class novice hurdlers over the years but it must be a few years since he had such strength in depth in that division. Champ propelled himself to the head of the ante-post market for the Ballymore NH with a two and a half lengths victory in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury. The King's Theatre gelding had won a handicap off a mark of 139 at the same track on his reappearance but took this step up in class in his stride. With the likes of Angels Breath, Birchdale and Rathhill also waiting in the wings, it is exciting times at Seven Barrows. Considering his lack of experience, I thought Brewin'Upastorm acquitted himself well in fourth. Only beaten four lengths, the Milan gelding had won a run of the mill novice hurdle at Huntingdon twenty days earlier and Olly Murphy's charge was plunged in at the deep end here.
Lady Buttons swerved the Castleford Chase at Wetherby on Wednesday due to the 'choppy ground,' and the decision was vindicated with Phil Kirby's stable star winning the Listed mares' chase at Doncaster instead. Unbeaten in three races this season, she travelled well throughout before being pushed out for a three and three quarters of a length win. The two miles three distance is probably as far as she wants to go. Currently rated 149, the daughter of Beneficial is likely to be given an entry in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Her stable couldn't be in better form with 9 winners from 30 runners during the last fortnight.
Gordon Elliott will have been disappointed with Samcro's run in the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle only finishing fifth behind Sharjah. However, he gained another Grade 1 victory courtesy of Delta Work in the staying novice chase at Leopardstown. Over the last four days, Elliott has sent out 5 winners from 84 runners - three of those victories came at the highest level.
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