Prestbury Park was bursting at the seams for the traditional New Year curtain raiser. There was not a spare seat or standing pitch in the house! Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty kicked off 2011 when favourite Bobs Worth obliged in the opener by 2 ¼ lengths from eye catcher Rose Of The Moon who was practically last 3 out then seemingly sprouted wings to run on into second. Although his jumping was not fluent at times he looks one to keep onside. As for Bobs Worth he is on course for a tilt at the Neptune Novices Hurdle at the Festival and is a best priced 201/1 with Paddy Power for that race.
A back to back double for Henderson and Geraghty was realised when Oscar Whisky burst on to an already scintillating Champion Hurdle scene; with his impressive 7 length victory in the 2m 4 ½f Cheltenham and Three Counties Hurdle. He could well go on to emulate 2007 Champion Hurdler Sublimity who like Oscar Whisky finished 4th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle the previous season before taking Champion glory. The placings of Any Given Day and Celestial Halo certainly give the form a solid look. We will find out more about Oscar Whisky’s Champion Hurdle aspirations when he contests the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las, Britain’s newest Racecourse which was founded by his owner Dai Walters.
Blazing Baileys stunning return to the big time in the Class 2 Handicap Chase was marred by the fatal injury to the popular veteran chaser Joe Lively. Sincere sympathies go to the Tizzard family. RIP Joe, thanks for the memories. Blazing Bailey was a high class staying hurdler a few seasons ago; he won the 2008 World Series Hurdle at Punchestown. It’s really great to see his trainer Alan King back to form after his Annus Horribilis last year.
Hells Bay took the Grade 2 Dipper Chase and provided the Tizzard family with something to smile about on what must have been one of their saddest days on the racecourse. A bargain purchase at £3,000 guineas at the DBS Horses in Training Sale out of Paul Nicholls yard, Hells Bay has been putting up consistently good performances all season notably in behind Arkle hope Finians Rainbow and RSA favourite Time For Rupert. On this occasion he beat Alan Kings Medermit by three quarters of a length. Both horses are likely to head to the Jewson at the Festival. Hells Bay is currently 14/1 and Medermit 10/1.
In the Victor Chandler Chase Tartak quashed all doubts about him only being able to act on a flat track when beating Carole’s Legacy in a driving finish that saw Tartak gain the advantage in the last 25 yards. Tartak is to be kept very much on the go with likely entries in the Ascot Chase, the Ryanair at the Festival and then the Melling Chase at Aintree.
Ashkazar led home a David Pipe 1,2,3 in the Handicap Hurdle at odds of 20/1. A course winner at Cheltenham in April, he relished the step up to 3 miles and is likely to be heading to the World Hurdle at the Festival.
A rare Cheltenham runner for flat trainer Roger Charlton in the concluding Listed Bumper saw Keys prevail by a short head from Cinders And Ashes. Keys had won in style at Lingfield on his previous outing and his target is the Champion Bumper at the Festival. Connections state that he will not run before that engagement. This was Roger Charlton’s first success at Cheltenham and it is likely that after the Festival Keys will have a summer flat campaign.
Guest post by Cathryn Fry