Black Op featured in the Top 40 Prospects in One Jump Ahead during the 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 seasons. Tom George's former Irish pointer appeared to have the world at his feet when chasing home Samcro in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2018 before gaining his first Grade 1 win at Aintree a month later. However, things didn't go to plan over fences last winter with the Sandmason gelding only finishing third at Exeter and Cheltenham. A decision was made to revert back to hurdles but he was well held in three Graded contests, including the Stayers' Hurdle at the Festival in the spring. Given a break and a wind operation over the summer, the eight year old was back over fences at Stratford on Thursday and he looked back to his best with a commanding performance. Johnny Burke's mount jumped very well and made all before handing out a fifteen lengths beating to Mr Antolini. On this evidence, he looks a top-class novice chaser in the making. His owner Roger Brookhouse is always keen to have runners at Cheltenham so one would expect Black Op to contest the two and a half miles novice chase on Friday 15th November at Prestbury Park. Then, all being well, the Grade 2 Dipper Novices' Chase over the same course and distance on New Year's Day could be next - he finished third in the same race last season behind Lostintranslation.
Winter Getaway (4/1) provided One Jump Ahead with another winner in the opening two miles six maiden hurdle. Philip Hobbs' ex-Irish pointer had shaped encouragingly on her Rules debut in a bumper at Fontwell but appreciated this longer trip over obstacles.
There is some tremendous jumping action over the next few days with Down Royal staging two excellent meetings. All eyes will be on Ascot and Wetherby on Saturday, too, while I am particularly looking forward to heading to Carlisle on Sunday for the Colin Parker Memorial Chase and a superb card all round. If you haven't already ordered a copy of One Jump Ahead and the 5 Updates - the first Update will be emailed to clients on Thursday 14th November - please head to the Publications section of the site.
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