GOING: Good, good to soft in places
JLT Novices´ Chase Grade 1 Cl1 2m4f
For a horse that ran seven times on the flat in France, Taquin Du Soleil has developed into a high-class chaser. In a race run at a good pace, he was far from fluent at several fences. Nevertheless, he gradually crept into the race. Urged into second place at the penultimate fence, he jumped the final fence upsides the gallant runner-up. Asserting halfway up the run-in he stayed on gamely. This looked a good renewal with the winners RPR 6lb higher than Benefficient in 2013. Uxizandre reverted to front-running tactics with cheekpieces applied for the first time over fences. Jumping for fun, he led until pressed after the second last fence. Keeping on under pressure, he ran his heart out up the run-in, going down by just under a length. Double Ross jumped and travelled in good styleholdingevery chance two from home. On ground that would have been quick enough, he was unable to match the pace of the first two home. Another good effort from a consistent and likeable horse. Felix Yonger began to make steady progress beforemistakes at the four and third last effectively ended any chance he had. Wonderful Charm was just behind the leaders when hampered by Djakadam’s fall four from home. Despite rallying, the best he could achieve was a staying on fourth place. He should improve on this first run for three months. Djakadam was still in with a shout when falling at the fourth last fence. Vukovar was held-up and hampered at the first fence. He jumped well, but almost certainly is better on softer ground when allowed his head. Oscar Whiskey and Mozoltov departed the fun at the first fence.
Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle) (Listed Race) Cl1 3m
A tremendous finish with the first four home covered by half a length. Fingal Bay was heavily punted travelling like a class horse through the race. Strongly pressed at the final flight, he made a mistake and needed all of Johnson’s strength to force his head back in front on the line. His RPR was 18lb below that achieved by More Of That in the World Hurdle. Southfield Theatre ran well here in November. He reproduced his best form to go down by a nose. A fine performance suggests he will prove an above average novice chaser next season. Pineau De Re produced a strong finish, having raced towards the back of the field for most of the journey. Fine example of his trainer’s skill with older horses. Trustan Times returned to his best form, off a favourable handicap mark.Produced tochallenge at the last, he was only held in the final strides. On The Bridge caught the eye finishing strongly in sixth, while Broadway Buffalo showed enough to suggest he has turned the corner. Mister Dillon ran a good race in fifth (Hampered at the first flight). He looks sure to step up on this back on genuinely good ground. If In Doubt was never travelling. In the circumstances, he did well to finish ninth. He deserves another chance to prove his Exeter run correct. Seefood appeared to run out of gas having looked dangerous turning for home.
Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy Chase) Grade 1 Cl1 2m5f
Whilst Dynaste ultimately ran out a convincing winner, his RPR was 7lb below that he achieved in the Betfair Chase. In receipt of an excellent waiting ride, a mistake at the third last halted his progress. However, any fears about his resolution were quashed as he jumped the last two fences in good style. Finding plenty under a strong ride, he kept on well all the way to the line. Whilst the proximity of the second and third holds down the form, he at least showed he has what it takes to win, when the chips are down. Hidden Cyclone ran an excellent race to finish second. At the head of affairs for much of the race, he jumped well appreciating the better ground. His chase form round left-handed tracks on soft ground or better, over distances short of three-miles reads, 1, 3, 1, 1, 3, 2, 2. Rajdhani Express achieved a career best in third place. He is effective going right-handed suggesting Punchestown may prove a suitable venue for his next assignment. Hunt Ball displayed he is coming back to his best form on his second start for Mr Henderson. Good ground at Aintree would see him competitive off an attractive handicap mark. Al Ferof,in truth, was never going well at any stage. The best he could achieve, under pressure, was a staying on fifth. Boston Bob was far from disgraced over an inadequate trip.Following a mistake at the third last, Benefficient weakened dramatically between the final two fences suggesting something was amiss.
Ladbrokes World Hurdle Grade 1 Cl1 3m
More Of That was held-up before tracking the leaders on the run to the second last. Running on strongly, he gained a narrow advantage at the final flight, extending all the way to the line. His RPR was 6lb higher than Solwhit last year (Timeform have him 9lb higher than Solwhit) and 2lb higher than Big Bucks in 2012. Given this was his fifth start on a racecourse, one wonders if plans to go chasing next season will be put on hold. Annie Power was on her toes before the race. She refused to drop the bridle despite Mr Walsh’s best efforts. Making headway two from home, she jumped the last upsides before the winner outstayed her. Her talent is without question. However, she is going to have to race amenably in her races, if she is to achieve success at the highest level. At Fishers Cross continued his improvement with a career high RPR in third place. If progressing again, he should go close at Aintree. Zarkandar ran to his best form, staying on well to reach fourth place. A return to Aintree looks on the cards. Big Buck’s ran to his Cleeve Hurdle RPR. However, he was unable to stay with the principals when the heat was turned up. He goes into honourable retirement following a wonderful career. Rule The World’s stamina appeared to give out jumping the second last.
Byrne Group Plate (A Handicap Chase) Grade 3 Cl1 2m4f
Ballynagour has had problems with broken blood vessels. Produced in go shape on a going day, he routed this field. Cruising into the lead two from home, he quickened away to win with plenty in hand. Colour Squadron produced another fine display on the course. Unfortunately, he met a decent horse on a going day. He did nothing wrong and deserves to win a similar race. Tatenen ran to his best, holding up the form of the first two horses pass the post. John’s Spirit had the ground underhoof. He appears in the handicappers grip at present. Champion Court is another thatneeds help from the handicapper. Giorgio Quercus ran well enough to suggest he could win in a lower grade round a more conventional track.
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders) Cl2 3m1f110y
Spring Heeled led from the fourth fence. Jumping well, he was left in charge when Cause Of Causes blundered away his chance away at the final fence. Spring Heeled stays well and looks a player in decent staying handicaps at Aintree or Punchestown. Cause Of Causes crept into the race under a typically quiet ride from Nina Carberry. Unfortunately, he made a mistake at the final fence and was unable to get back on terms. Consistent, he deserves to win a valuable handicap. Roberta Goldback stayed on well into third place having been outpaced a mile from home. Following this run and looking at his profile, Balnaslow looks an ideal type for the Topham Trophy. Indian Castle worked his way into contention but was a spent force when blundering badly at the second last. His trainer’s runners disappointed over the four days.