The fifth edition of Racing Review and in this edition we take a look at the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. We also look back at some exciting novices’ which ran during the week over in the Emerald Isle, along with the Badgers Ales Trophy at Wincanton on Saturday, and also the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase at the same venue to take a look at.
GOD’S OWN LANDS HALDON PRIZE
A cold mundane Tuesday with a fast approaching cold snap was significantly warmed by an excellent performance from God’s Own, who continued his improved form over fences to land the Haldon Gold Cup for Tom George and his team.
Tracking the leaders throughout, he moved strongly towards the front when blundering 4 out, but quickly put around three lengths between himself and his nearest pursuer between that point and jumping two from home and kept on strongly all the way to the line for Paddy Brennan, to confirm his Punchestown form with Balder Succes who he beat into third last May.
God’s Own is actually still a novice and heads next to Sandown for the Henry VIII Chase on the Tingle Creek card, although his trainer hinted at a provisional entry in both races and should the latter cut up he could go for that instead.
Balder Succes made a pleasing return to action for Alan King, and was in the process of running a huge race off 7lb worse terms than their Punchestown meeting when blundering his way through 3 from home. He kept on under Wayne Hutchinson but was looked after when it appeared his chances had gone – he will now head for the Tingle Creek at Sandown.
Cue Card was heavily supported in the pre-race market and was sent off a rock solid 13/8 favourite, but he had been off with a stress fracture of his pelvis since finishing runner-up to Silviniaco Conti in the King George, and had also undergone a breathing operation in the summer. Paddock judges suggested he was pretty straight for his first outing of the season, but finished very tired under Daryl Jacob. He had a similar style of run in this race last year and he’ll be best evaluated on his performance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, which is where he heads next over a more suitable distance.
THE YOUNG MASTERS THE OLD IN BADGER ALES TROPHY
After a fairly low-key start to his career, The Young Master has improved tons since being applied with cheek-pieces, winning 8 of his last 11 starts which includes outings on the all-weather, over hurdles and most recently over fences.
He is a fast improving horse and ran way above his handicap mark when running away with an amateur riders event at Cheltenham at last months’ Showcase Meeting, continued that level of improvement to put a very competitive handicap field to the sword with another run-away success in the Badger Ales Trophy.
Tracking the leaders throughout on a decent pace, he was racing here off a 9lb higher mark than when winning at Cheltenham the last day but that didn’t stop him as he moved strongly throughout the contest under Barry Geraghty and didn’t need to be hard ridden to power away from the field in the closing stages. He’s still a novice with just 2 prior outings over fences (something which should have seen him be ineligible for this contest), and has caused somewhat of a stir on Twitter after the racing’s governing body the BHA had failed to spot this prior to the race taking place.
He is sure to be handed a stiff rise for this victory when looked at by the official assessor, but is open to any amount of improvement given he is so inexperienced over the larger obstacles and his winning run may not have finished yet.
PURPLE BAY TAKES ADVANTAGE IN ELITE HURDLE
Purple Bay was a somewhat fortunate winner of the Elite Hurdle on Saturday at Wincanton, and would have been booked for second had Irving not crashed out at the last but there was plenty to like about the way he drew clear of his remaining rivals upon jumping the last.
The victory took Mikey Ennis to a perfect 2/2 on the horse, and clearly gets a good tune out of him. There is a possibility he could line up in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham next weekend but will be coming into a much more competitive race there and previous to this looked rated high enough.
TWINLIGHT RECAPTURES SPARKLE IN FORTRIA
The Willie Mullins trained seven-year-old Twinlight recaptured his sparkle in the Fortria Chase at Navan on Sunday afternoon, and continued his somewhat formidable racing record when running before the 1st of January. His record now reads since coming into the care of Willie Mullins (F3111111) between the start of the season and January 1st, which compared to 1st Jan-end of season (2413326) makes him out as a horse to keep on side in the early part of the campaign.
This was one of the better performances I’ve seen from Twinlight, and the way he drew away in the closing stages was impressive but it’s hard to think any of these would be competitive when stepping up to Grade 1 level this season.
REAL STEEL IN CHARGE AT NAAS
Across the sea and over to Naas on Saturday, Real Steel made a very pleasing first start over fences for trainer Mouse Morris and he came clear with another smart prospect in the shape of Le Vent D’Antan with daylight a clear third.
Sat on the front end throughout aboard Real Steel, Bryan Cooper gradually increased the pace from the half-way stage and despite being first off the bridle his jumping remained pinpoint throughout and he asserted nicely on the run-in to get the better of the smart second.
Le Vent D’Antan was a bit sticky over his fences in the early exchanges but warmed to his task as the pace quickened in the second half of the contest. He loomed up well and looked the most likely winner when Real Steel came under pressure, but a combination of possibly needing the run and being outstayed by the winner accounted to his defeat, but no doubt a similar event would be a formality next time up.
TANK ROLLS INTO NOVICE TOP TIER
A switch of stables doesn’t appear to have done any harm whatsoever to The Tullow Tank who made an eye-catching chase debut at Fairyhouse on Tuesday for Dessie Hughes, and judging by this performance he looks one that will take high rank in the novice division his season.
Tracking the leaders throughout he jumped supremely well if a little over-big at a couple down the back, but moved effortlessly to the front after three from home before running out a very comfortable winner, being partnered for the first time by Adrian Heskin.
Mala Beach could still prove to be a fairly decent staying chasing when faced with a longer distance to run at and softer ground, but this was a pleasing first effort over fences by him staying on late in the day to take second.
The Drinmore Novices’ Chase on the 30th of November at Fairyhouse is being touted as the next port of call for The Tullow Tank, which sets up a possible clash with Apache Stronghold amongst others and that is one I simply cannot wait to see play out.
THEATRE LANDS RISING STARS NOVICES’
After making a pleasing chasing debut at Chepstow last month, Southfield Theatre faced just two rivals in a race Paul Nicholls has won 6 times in the last 9 years to continue his progression over fences and he dealt with that task with aplomb with another pleasing round.
Sent towards the front from the start, he needed to be pushed along heading towards the water jump by Sam Twiston-Davies, but the further they went the better he went and drew right away from Hollow Penny in the home straight to win by an impressive 11 lengths. The Alan King runner has run right up to recent form which gives a positive view over this rating, and he becomes the highest rated performance of the novices so far this season, taking over Apache Stronghold on my ratings.
PEACHEY FROM POLLY OFF TOP-WEIGHT
The Nicky Henderson trained Polly Peachum returned with seemingly plenty to do off top-weight in the Mares handicap hurdle on Saturday’s Wincanton card, but the way in which she travelled and ultimately came away to win the race made for impressive viewing.
A listed race at Kempton could be her next port of call, and if she continues in this vein of form could be one for the OLBG Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
VALTAT GETS OFF MARK ON CHASE DEBUT
Across at Warwick on Wednesday the Paul Nicholls trained Vibrato Valtat made a successful chasing debut under the confident handling of Sam Twiston-Davies, seeing off the challenges of both Thomas Crapper and Grumeti to win with plenty to spare.
Twiston-Davies opted to sit and wait just off the heels of the leaders, and produced him at the perfect moment to win comfortably. The slow early fractions will have played to his strengths, and would have gone against pace-setter Thomas Crapper who wouldn’t have been suited by this track or distance so his effort can be marked up a little.
Grumeti was bidding to give away 5lbs to these after an impressive chase debut at Bangor, but ran a little flat on his second start over fences and was never jumping with any fluency throughout the contest.
GILGAMBOA MAKES SUCCESSFUL FIRST CHASE START
A very decent novice hurdler last term and well backed on the day for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle itself, Gilgamboa wasted no time in getting his chasing career off to the perfect start with a solid win on Sunday at Navan.
Facing fair opposition in the shape of the Willie Mullins trained Blood Cotil, it was wondered if Gilgamboa would be fully wound up for this assignment given connections but the big-strapping son of Westerner put in a solid performance in accordance with his profile, suggesting there was more to come in the future.
Blood Cotil ran well enough in second, but the eye-catcher outside of the winner was Victone Du Noyer in third who made a pleasing first start over fences, lacking the tactical speed of the front pair but kept on nicely into third in the closing stages and will be suited by a step-up in trip in the near future.
During the week there were a handful of handicap performances of note, and these should be winning more races in the near future. Those are Groody Hill/Barely Legal, Tullyesker Hill, The Ould Lad/Fergal Mael Duin, and obviously The Young Master at Wincanton on Saturday.
A small selection of novice performances that didn’t make it into this week’s review but are worth of mention are those of Jollyallan, Irish Saint and Seamus who all ran with real credit this week and should be closely monitored in future engagements.