Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Far from a super Saturday

10-February-2024 16:55
in General
by Admin

Newbury card on Saturday was billed as 'Super Saturday' and Grade 1 winners Shishkin and Edwardstone read the script with emphatic victories in the Denman and Game Spirit Chases respectively. The former was niggled along leaving the backstraight but responded to pressure and was full value for his four and a quarter lengths win and will line up as a leading contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The latter appreciated the drop in class and return to two miles making up under Tom Cannon and proving in a different class to his three opponents. The former Arkle Chase winner will line up in the Queen Mother Champion Chase next month.

As far as followers of the Top 40 and the February Update are concerned, it proved a disappointing afternoon. East India Express stayed on in second in the opening two miles novice hurdle and, given a more aggressive ride, he could have reeled in the all the way winner Making Headway. Hopefully Nicky Henderson's runner will go one better on a sounder surface in the spring - he isn't badly treated off a mark of 123 and capable of winning a nice prize before being his summer holiday.

The Betfair Hurdle proved a major anti-climax with French import Ocastle Des Mottes only finishing eighth and Altobelli never figuring. Indeed, the latter was slowly away and the game was up with a circuit to run - he never travelled like his previous two starts at Ascot. Ocastle Des Mottes probably wasn't helped by being reshod and getting worked up beforehand and racing keenly down the backstraight didn't aid his cause either. However, Willie Mullins' runner held every chance in the homestraight and wasn't good enough on the day. I suspect one day he will prove much better than his mark, probably over fences.

Ironically, the finish to the two miles event was dominated by the two horses selected for the Greatwood Hurdle in the November Update, namely Iberico Lord and L'Eau Du Sud. Rarely does one horse win two of the most competitive handicap hurdles of the season but Nicky Henderson's ex-French gelding managed it with a two and a quarter lengths success. Racing off an eight pounds higher mark than when successful at Prestbury Park earlier in the campaign, he was given a confident ride by Nico De Boinville. The runner-up, who pulled up in the Greatwood Hurdle, finally reproduced his homework with an excellent effort. He was reportedly suffering with ulcers earlier in the season.

It has therefore been anything but a Super Saturday for One Jump Ahead supporters. However, in racing there is always tomorrow and I will end this with an encouraging piece of news - one of the Top 40 worked after racing on Saturday and could yet emerge as a major contender in next month's Arkle Trophy even though he isn't currently entered in the two miles contest.


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