The 2017 horse racing flat season is now on its last legs but before we finally wave it a fond farewell in a month’s time there is still the Dubai Future Champions Festival on Friday & Saturday to look forward too and if you believe the Chepstow racecourse website, then this weekend also see’s the start of the winter jumping programme in the UK and given the prize money on offer over the two days, it’s hard to argue with them. The highlight of the Saturday card is the Grade 3, Totepool Silver Trophy with £50,000 on offer in prize money and the highlight of Sunday card is the Grade Two Tote Persian War Novices Hurdle with £35,000 on offer. If you like your jumps it all starts here! Sadly I will be missing the action as I will be in Durham over the weekend.
Last Weeks Highlights
The big jumps stable are beginning to bring out their winter jumps horses now and last week we saw three top class performances.
The Alan King-trained Sceau Royal, who had finished 6th in the Champion Hurdle, made his debut over fences in a novice chase at Warwick on Thursday. He jumped well throughout the race and had too much pace after the last for his four rivals. It will be interesting to see how he fares over fences but he will surely win more races in the sphere.
One To Note: Ballyhill was a useful hurdler himself last season, although was rated 21lb inferior over hurdles to Sceau Royal. He got within 4 ½ lengths of the winner at the line after putting in a really good round of jumping from the front. Given how well he jumped there will be wins in the six-year-old, of that I am sure and he was my eyecatcher from the race.
On Friday racegoers at Fontwell were treated to another good novice chase performance as the Paul Nicholls trained Adrien Du Pont cruised to victory on his first start since February. The five-year-old was rated 145 over hurdles and he looks like he will rate higher over fences. He had a wind operation over the summer which looks to have worked. Given before the race he looked like he would benefit from the run he looks like set to do well in novice chases in the coming weeks.
One To Note: Pickamix, finished second, he was no match for the winner, but he showed a good attitude at the finish on his first run over fences and is one to take out of the race with the future in mind. The six-year-old was 3 wins from 5 runs over hurdles and has yet to be out of the first three under rules and as he had 15lb to find with the Nicholls horse on their hurdles ratings he did well to get as close as he did at the finish. He has the scope to be a decent chaser, Has yet to run on going worse than good to soft so winter ground is a bit of an unknown but on a sound surface can make up into a useful handicap chaser at around 2m 6f +.
On Saturday we saw the much anticipated seasonal reappearance of Fayonagh at Fairyhouse. The Gordon Elliott trained mare was making her debut over hurdles and it was a nice introduction for her as she jumped nicely through the race and had plenty in hand over her 14 rivals when winning this maiden hurdle. The six-year-old ended last season the best National Hunt Flat horse in Britain & Ireland when winning both the Cheltenham & Punchestown’s Champion Bumper races. It will be interesting to see how she fares against better quality opposition as the season progresses but she already is one of the leading fancies for the big novice hurdles at next years Cheltenham Festival.
This Weeks EyeCatcher’s
To further whet your appetite for the winter jumps season and in addition to the Ballyhill and Picamix. I have two more National Hunt tracker horses for you and also one for the all-weather.
Wednesday 4th October
Eagle Creek – Simon Crisford – The three-year-old is a better horse on the all-weather than the grass and he showed it here. Having his first start on the synthetics since bolting up in a Lingfield maiden back in April, he was well backed in the morning of the race (put up by Hugh Taylor on the At The Races site) and ran accordingly. He made his effort two furlongs out but he didn’t get a run on the rails and had to be switched a furlong out. Beaten just ½ length at the line it’s not hard to think he might well have won with a clear passage. The form of the race looks solid and although he will go up in the weights for this run he should remain competitive. There is a handicap in him on the all-weather in the coming weeks.
Saturday 7th October
Diable De Sivola – Nick Williams – A winner on his racecourse debut at Uttoxeter, the four-year-old ran his best race on his final start of last season when finishing well from of the pace to take 5th in the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. He shaped that day like he needs a step up in trip and starts the season on a handy mark off 132. A market drifter on his seasonal reappearance the gelding was held up and was never really put into the race but he finished his race off really strongly to grab second although he was never going to catch the winner Dashing Oscar. As expected the step up to 2m 3f suited and he looks capable of staying a bit further too. Given his weakness before the race, he probably needed the run and should come on a bundle for this run. There is a nice pot in him over hurdles this season.
Sunday 8th October
Alpha Des Obeux – Mouse Morris –Top class staying hurdler who put up his best performance when finishing second to Thistlecrack in the World Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival. The seven-year-old had eight starts in novice chases last season winning two of his first three starts over the larger obstacles before finishing 3rd in the Drimore Novices Chase. He burst blood vessels at Leopardstown over Christmas and also when finishing 4th in the RSA Novices Chase at Cheltenham. Was sent off just 4/1 for the Munster National on his seasonal reappearance and he jumped really well under top weight to finish second. Unfortunately, he came up against a very well handicapped horse in Total Recall who beat him 7 lengths. Still, he finished 11 lengths ahead of the third and this was a very encouraging start to the season for him. The only slight concern would be his history of bursting blood vessels but this was his best run over fences according to Racing Post Ratings and based on this run he can win a valuable pot for connections this winter.
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.