Sharjah won the Grade 1 Matheson Hurdle at Leopardstown for a fourth time with a hard fought neck victory from Zanahiyr with the pair pulling nearly five lengths clear of Saint Roi. It was the eight year old's sixth Grade 1 win and has been a tremendous horse for his connections. Owners Rich and Susannah Ricci haven't had much luck over the Festive period, so it was a welcome change of fortune.
Top 40 entry Journey With Me (3/1) produced a very good performance to win the the two and a half miles maiden hurdle with a powerful staying performance. A former point and bumper winner, the five year old made all the running and was too good for last season's Grade 1 winning bumper performer Kilcruit scoring by three and a half lengths. Advised at 25/1 for the Albert Bartlett NH in One Jump Ahead, Henry De Bromhead's Mahler gelding looks tailormade for the three miles event because the further he goes, the better he looks. He is another terrific prospect for owner Robcour.
It was a decent day all round for followers of the Christmas Special with the well backed Saint Palais (7/4) winning the once prestigious Mandarin Handicap Chase at Newbury. A progressive four year old, the ex-French gelding had won his previous two starts over fences at Worcester and Wetherby and defied a ten pounds rise since his latest success at the latter track. Given a patient ride by Harry Bannister, he was taken wide early on before making his move approaching the home straight. Keeping on well after the last, he fended off the persistent challenge of Gericault Rouge by a length and a quarter with a further eleven lengths back to the third. He is a smashing young horse who is improving at a rate of knots.
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