Friday, 23 March 2018



This was won in decisive style by SAMCRO who looks to have a bright future at this meeting in the coming years as does BLACK OP for Tom George who came here with the best British form.
NEXT DESTINATION, 4th in last seasons bumper, deserves plenty of credit and probably should have finished closer than he did as he was a bit too far off the pace when things quickened but he stayed on very well up the hill to finish 3rd and he looks set to be a top 3m chaser for the Mullins team.
There were 14 lengths back to the 7th and the 4th, 5th and 6th namely Scarpeta, Duc De Genievres and Vision Des Flos were right on the heels of Next Destination.
Gowiththeflow had led until just before the 2nd last and then faded into 8th and he needs to continue the improvement he has shown.
Vision Des Flos and Scarpeta were 1st and 2nd as they jumped the second last and both were expected to run big races but Samcro was looming ominously on their outside turning in and they were quickly outpaced by him.
To give you an idea of Samcro's domination Timeform reckon he could have carried 12-7 in the Coral Cup and still won that by a couple lengths according to their figures.
Oh and for good measure Samcro also lost his right fore shoe!!
The first 6 home should all be kept onside.

Handicap Ratings Update
Samcro – Up 155 to 158
Black Op – Up 150 to 152
Next Destination – Remains on 150
Scarpeta – Up 134 to 148
Duc De Genievres – Down 148 to 147
Vision Des Flos – Remains on 147

Always a very competitive handicap hurdle and the going made it more of test than in previous years. The winner BLEU BERRY was settled out the back for most of the contest and began his move coming down the hill. He was in 8th/9th turning for home and was disputing 3rd jumping the last before taking it up on the run in and duelling with TOPOFTHEGAME to the line – with BARRA a close third. The win was obviously expected as post race Mark Walsh said Willie Mullins had told him not to hit the front too soon. Expected to improve from his only run this season he came into the race as a bit of a dark horse.
William Henry, The Organist and Red Indian occupied the next 3 places.
Topofthegame, a 6yo, would probably have preferred further but stable hoped the testing going would offset that and it very nearly did. He'd gone up 8lb for his win last time out at Sandown and he looks to be a ready made top class 3m chaser for the Nicholls camp with this being only his 9th start under rules.
Barra had finished 2nd in last seasons Mares Hurdle and was expected to be placed in this by connections and did well considering she lost her left fore shoe. There seems to be have been more shoes lost on the sticky going than ever before.
Like Topofthegame William Henry in 4th did well with the weight concession to the winner on his 10th start and The Organist, 7th in last season's Mares Hurdle, could have been a little closer as he was pushed wide turning for home – he had tracked the winner down the hill.
Red Indian, a 6yo, stayed on well towards the finish to grab 6th spot – he'd run well here in November and this was his 9th start.

Handicap Ratings Update
Bleu Berry – Up 143 to 148
Topofthegame – Up 150 to 155
Barra – Up 137 to 140
William Henry – Up 151 to 154
The Organist – Up 139 to 140
Red Indian – Remains on 139

On form VENEER OF CHARM 11-0 was not entitled to win this, never mind in the manner in which he did and the stewards enquired into the improved form shown and Gordon Elliott could offer no explanation. He had come into this with the magic 3 runs and therefore first time in a handicap. He was a bit green in front when he got there but stayed on well to win. Mitchouka was the better fancied of the stables two runners as he had been working very well at home. He was well positioned going down the back but was badly hampered by the faller and lost ground. He didnt pick up coming down the hill and was pulled up after jumping two out and no doubt compensation awaits.
STYLE DE GARDE 11-8 was 2nd and NUBE NEGRA 11-6 3rd and both ran good races to be beaten by what looked to be a well handicapped winner and both should make decent chasers in time although Aintree could be very much on the cards for both first and both should be followed on home soil.
LOOK MY WAY 11-6 8th - lost left hind shoe and ERAGON DE CHANAY 10-11 7th - lost right hind shoe. Look My Way was badly hampered by the faller down the back straight but had was leading at 3rd last - whilst Eragon De Chanay who had won easily at Sandown just 4 days earlier and had a 5lb penalty so in the circumstances both of these did well to run on up the hill and finish where they did.

Handicap Ratings Update
Veneer Of Charm – Up 129 to 134
Style De Garde – Up 137 to 142
Nube Negra – Up 135 to 139
Look My Way – Remains on 135
Eragon De Chanay - Up 126 to 129

Debuchet, Claimantakinforgan, Next Destination and Western Ryder were 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th in this last season and all have run well at this festival save that Next Destination has been the only one to place in first three finishing 3rd in the Ballymore Novice Hurdle.
The winners of a total of 36 races between them lined up here and the race was won by the unbeaten RELEGATE – although he was allowed to go off at 25/1. The time returned was 23.30 seconds outside standard and its a factor that you have to bear in mind in all races at this festival as horses were being asked to run for much longer than they would normally because of the conditions and plenty didnt stay the trip because of that.
CAREFULLY SELECTED set out to make all from the front and travelled well under Danny Mullins whereas at the top of the hill Relegate was still stone last of the 23 runners. Turning for home Carefully Selected continued to lead but Katie Walsh had conjured up a great run from the winner to take the lead in the final 100 yards, Carefully Selected on hearing the crowd hung over to the rail but seeing Relegate go by he picked up again and only a neck separated them at the line and both deserve plenty of credit.
Third home was TORNADO FLYER who was having only his second run and he ran on well having been taken wide as they turned for home and Acey Milan was 4th.
SEDDON travelled into the race nicely as they came down the hill and looked to be going well as they turned in but he wasn't given a hard race by his jockey and was allowed to come home in his own time.
DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO was my selection based on his wins on better going at Lingfield and Ascot – his time for 2m on the AW at Lingfield was 3m 29.00s whereas here the winner recorded 4m.4.30s and the duration of the race-coupled with the going was beyond him having been pushed very wide on the home bend and he remains an exciting prospect.
Gordon Elliott was expecting a big run from FELIX DESJY so the fact that he finished 6th bodes well for those who finished in front although he hadn't run for 131 days.

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