Day one of The Showcase as Cheltenham flung open the doors for the 2014-15 season and while the builders are currently in it remained business as usual for the home of National Hunt Racing unlike when Ascot and Doncaster shut for when they had their renovations done.
A seven race card where the emphasis was based more on the future with a few novice and maiden events plus some competitive handicaps for Professional,Amateur and Conditional jockeys.
Just like last year all races where on the Old Course and the chute for 2m4f and 2m5f was not in use due to various ground issues.
2.05 The Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle,Class 2,2m5f,11 flights,4yo+
Just before the off the favourite Blaklion was taken out after Jamie Moore dismounted him at the start.
Only a head separated eventual winner Vicente from the Paul Nicholls yard and Jamie Snowdens Present View, it was a steady pace and although Vicente was wound up to challenge coming down the hill he will come on a ton for this, The Persian War at Chepstow has been touted before he loses his novice status but he has plenty of ability, Present View won the Novice Handicap here at the Festival and this run will put him spot on for a crack at next months Paddy Power.
2.40 The squareintheair.com Novices’ Chase,Class 2,2m,13 fences,4yo+
It was two from two for Court Minstrel here,rated 154 over hurdles he jumped very well and put in a polished and professional performance, He could be back here in November or maybe Sandown for the Henry VII Chase but he has set a good standard for Arkle horses so far.
Of the beaten horses Thomas Crapper a course specialist was a bit novicey at some of his fences and he will have learnt from today’s race, a step back up in trip will suit him a lot better and he is one to note for next time.
Un Ace took a tumble early doors but got up safely.
3.15 The Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier),Class 2,3m,12 flights,4yo+
Seventeen went to post in the first of many qualifying races for this ever popular series,although the final is here that is one the New Course which is a slightly different three miles than the one here on the Old one.
Lots of potential improvers in the field but of the eight who make the final it was Sybarite from the Nigel Twiston Davies yard that took the spoils, just taking the lead from Henryville who was given a peach of a ride from conditional Conor Brassil (7) but Sybarite kept him firmly in his place on the run in.
Sybarite may be sent for the big Fixed Brush event at Haydock next month before coming but no doubt the final will be the target, Off the beaten horses the bottom weight Chill Factor ran a good race being fourteen lengths back in sixth, Rachael Green took up the lead at halfway and was just in front at two out but still has a bit more to give I think.
3.50 The Ryman Stationery Cheltenham Business Club Novices’ Chase,Class 2,3m110y 19 fences,5yo+
Only five here with eyes on the mare Highland Retreat who took plenty of black type races over this trip last season before being midfield behind the mighty Quevega at the Festival.
However it was one for the Arsenal fans who probably haven’t had much to celebrate so far as The Romford Pele named after Ray Parlour jumped to victory here, Highland Retreat set the early pace and took to fences fairly well and made the odd error but coming down the hill she got overtaken and then began to drop back,she will be better next time.
The Romford Pele had a bit of a fight on his hooves with Lamb Or Cod but found plenty on the run in, Trainer Rebecca Curtis did suggest The Hennessy next month and those big staying chases should be ideal for him.
4.25 The Harrison James & Hardie Maiden Hurdle,Class 3,2m110y,8 flights,4yo+
An easy stroll to victory for Commisioned here,trained by John Ferguson who was no doubt watching him on the telly at Newmarket with his main boss Sheikh Mohammed, This was expected as he was last sighted fourth behind Guitar Pete in a Grade One at Aintree, Wether he could be a credible Champion Hurdle horse is another thing.
Ballyboley came second by eight lengths,He should find a race soon,winner of the Aintree bumper I think he could be better up in trip.
5.00 The Cheltenham Monopoly Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase,Class 3,3m1f,20 fences,4yo+ (0-125)
A competitive race with plenty in with a Chance as the tape went up for these Amateurs.
The Young Master made it yet another win and he really is thriving having won over all disciplines of the sport, Travelling well he jumped very well and was produced to lead at the last fence to give perennial underachiever Charingworth a comfortable 4.5 length beating.
Favourite Balbriggan was in contention but the weight possibly told and former Gold Cup winning jockey Sam Waley-Cohen probably wished he could have a Get Out Of Jail Free Card should he get asked to ride Benbane Head over fences again as yet again his jumping over the larger obstacles let him down as he fell down the back straight.
The Young Master is clearly on the up and has still got a bit more to give,going in off 121 we may see him back in the Amateur race next month over the same course and distance unless another race can be found soon.
Below,The Young Master.
5.35 The giftofracing.co.uk Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle,Class 3,2m110y,8 flights,3yo+,(0-140)
A fair race which is essentially the C/J Champion Hurdle all but in name.
Four in with a chance turning for home as the David Dennis trained Roman Flight who has had a busy old summer showed his fitness under Shane Quinlan (5) to just edge out Nicky Henderson’s Hammersly Lake in a typically thrilling Cheltenham battle up the famous hill,despite making a real hash of the last fence he fought with real tenacity and worked hard for the win.
The runner up in the Michael Buckley colours was having only his second start for Nicky Henderson,he has the talent and Peter Carberry (3) came him a cracking ride,he should win races soon, Third was top weight Vibrato Valtat,he was runner up in the Swinton and maybe unsuited by the course plus the application of head gear will help, Fourth horse home Mountain King ran keenly and needs to settle better,his time will come.
Day one all done with,It was good to be back for what is essentially the Craven Meeting of the jumping game.
Plenty to take away for future reference here without a doubt.
Next up will be Saturdays racing.
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