I thought Stoney Mountain (7/2) produced a good performance to win the two and a half miles maiden hurdle at Aintree on Sunday. The event has been won by the likes of Wichita Lineman, Robin Roe and On The Blind Side over the years. Henry Daly's charge had won two bumpers last term and he made a winning start to his hurdling career at the weekend. A gelded son of Mountain High, who is featured in One Jump Ahead, he wore down the 145 rated Aye Aye Charlie to lead close home and prevail by a neck with thirteen lengths back to the third. Daly has his string in fine form at present and he has a nice prospect on his hands. A good looking sort who impressed in the paddock beforehand, he is very much one for the future.
Frodon was an admirable winner of the Old Roan Chase as he provided Paul Nicholls with his third win in the Grade 2 event. However, I found it a frustrating race to watch with Cloudy Dream only finishing third. Having his first run for Donald McCain, the grey never got a proper sight at his fences and didn't jump or travel with his usual fluency. The way he finished suggests he is worth another try over further but I was disappointed with his effort - it was an unsatisfactory event.
One Jump Ahead has continued to send out plenty of winners with the likes of Beau Sancy (15/8), Dorrells Pierji (6/1), Froden (9/2), Senior Citizen (5/1) and Stoney Mountain (7/2) all scoring during the last few days.
I was impressed with The Worlds End's chasing debut at Chepstow on Tuesday. Rated 155 over hurdles, he struggling a bit last season against the best stayers but looked a natural over fences at the Welsh venue. His jumping looked his biggest asset as he readily pulled fourteen lengths clear of Now McGinty. It is possible he will head to Newbury for the Grade 2 staying novice chase (1st December) and that will tell us more but Tom George has plenty to look forward to with the Stowaway gelding.
In other news, Off You Go who created a good impression at Galway last weekend, has been raised seven pounds by the Irish handicapper to a mark of 141. It will be interesting to see what Charles Byrnes has in mind for him next.
Settimo Milanese finished runner-up in the staying handicap hurdle at Aintree at the weekend for ValueRacingClub.co.uk. The syndicate have been busy shopping for new talent at this week's Newmarket Horses in Training Sale. I spoke to syndicate manager James Couldwell on Tuesday evening and he informed me that he had purchased Dominating (30,000gns) and Tinsmith (12,000gns). The pair will join Donald McCain, who will be training for ValueRacingClub.co.uk for the first time.
Dominating is a four year old gelded son of Jukebox Jury who won 6 of his 31 races on the Flat for Mark Johnston. A five times winner last year, he is officially rated 80 and filled the runners-up berth three times during 2018. A strong stayer - he won over two miles two at Pontefract last season - he is set to be given a good break before going into training with Donald and embarking on a hurdling career.
Tinsmith is a horse I recommended to James to keep an eye on at the sale. Only three, he is a well bred son of Mastercraftsman who was Roger Charlton's horse to follow in Ahead On The Flat this time around. Unraced as a juvenile, he showed plenty of promise on his racecourse bow at Newbury in the spring but hasn't fired since. Considered big and backward, he will be gelded and given time to mature (he has only raced four times). He measures over 17 hands and is very much a long-term project. Only rated 62 on the Flat, it is hoped he will be a different proposition over obstacles.
If anyone is interested in getting involved in either or any other of VRC's horses, please head to their website and get in touch with James.
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