Party once again for Paisley at Prestbury
Kyle Merrick on the recent action at Ascot and Cheltenhm and the clues it offered for the upcoming spring festivals
The re-worked plan for staying champion Paisley Park paid off as the eight-year-old timed it to perfection to deliver a fantastic challenge up the hill to power on to take grade two glory in the Cleeve Hurdle.
Paisley Park jumped and travelled superbly which showed everyone why he is the star and confirms his status ahead of the big one on 12 March.
If The Cap Fits was disappointing and was not involved in the finish which raises question marks, but the main surprise was the third, Lisnagar Oscar who kicked the turbo into gear as the field turned for home.
The Cotswold Chase had an intriguing line-up where Bristol De Mai and Santini duelled throughout the home straight with the latter just delivering a little extra. Like Sandown, a finish that didn’t convince in workmanlike fashion, but he got the job done and has put down his Gold Cup credentials.
Bristol De Mai is now a horse that definitely goes around Cheltenham and a close second proved him to be another contender that is shortlisted for the blue riband race in March.
It is rare you find the form book going from a Chepstow class four victory to a Cheltenham Grade 2 success, but it occurred on Trials day in the Ballymore Classic Hurdle as Harry Senior was in complete control on only his sixth start.
The all-important final hurdle proved a key moment to produce a performance to keep in mind. King Roland travelled extremely well throughout and looked like the big threat to the Tizzard contender by the speed he had when the field entered the final two furlongs.
Protektorat couldn’t get on terms to follow up his win on New Years’ day but all three would be names to keep in the notebook for the Festival.
Rewinding the high quality racing action back a week, Robbie Power enjoyed another big race win in the Grade 2 Warfield Mares Hurdle at Ascot on the Irish challenger Magic Of Light, who was not hampered by the long journey to retain her title, following a similar path to the Grand National, by winning this Ascot race.
A mare that kept finding under pressure by making all the running with Sensulano plugging on well in second which should be a name to remain in the notebook when not running behind a Grand national second.
Back at Cheltenham, the blue and white colours of The Bellamy Partnership gave Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch a big race success in the form of Cepage. A hard fought, determined run with an excellent finish which gave the eight-year-old a first grade win.
It was third time lucky this season at Cheltenham in similar handicap chase events. Both Spritofthegames and Lalor showed their best and could be fascinating in handicaps as the spring festivals approach. The stable plate on day three a possible target which would match this series of 2m4f handicap chase contests.
Simply The Betts proved the best in the novice handicap chase by jumping well and powering away from Imperial Aura who seem to enjoy this shorter trip and the consistent On The Slopes for another place result. (Four places from four runs since November). Surely a win some point this season for this six-year-old.
Galahad Quest was the surprise of the day with the favourite, Monte Cristo disappointing in the jumping department in the opening JCB trial.
The Nick Williams four-year-old keeps improving significantly after each run and must be considered for important events in the juvenile hurdle division for this season.
A week previous, Ascot staged the other signature fixture to beat the January blues where the visual dominance of Goshen continued by cementing his star talents by taking the opening juvenile hurdle in classy style by the winning margin at eleven lengths.
Before Richard Johnson’s accident at Exeter he gained a valuable race when steering Thomas Darby for Olly Murphy in the Grade 3 handicap hurdle under top weight. A winning return to hurdling for the seven-year-old who could be enjoying the smaller obstacles more.
The headline Ascot act was the rematch between Defi Du Seuil and Un De Sceaux. A tactical race with the two stars ahead of the three chasers who were looking for an upset. Seven from home, Un De Sceaux produced another huge leap which gave him a larger lead as they raced inside the final mile.
Defi’s jumping was a slight issue by taking longer and jumping out to the left which meant the Mullins contender kept his lead until the second last where Defi Du Seuil unleased the hidden engine to accelerate away in high class fashion by laughing at his rivals by following up the Tingle Creek success.
A likely winner at the spring festivals if he keeps in good form.
The time continues to fly along with the racing keeping up with quality and quantity. Roll on February where the final clues for Cheltenham await.
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