There was plenty of high class action going on over the weekend with numerous festival contenders lining up at Cheltenham, Leopardstown and Doncaster.
Here are the three main horses that went in my notebook after the weekends racing –
STAYING ARTICLE (E J O’Grady) – Saturday – 2.45 Leopardstown – 3rd in the 2m Boylesports Handicap Hurdle
This goes down as an eye-catching run on a number of fronts. The ultra competitive Leopardstown handicap has proven to be a hard race to win under a big weight so the 7yo’s 3rd placed effort under top weight (minus jockeys 3lb claim) has do go down as a huge effort. In the end it may well have been his welter burden that was enough to anchor him, especially when we consider the 2 that finished in front of him were both considerably well handicapped animals. It should also be noted that this was only his 4th hurdle start (and 5th career start) but he travelled and jumped like a horse of far more experience. He actually jumped the last with a marginally lead and when headed he, rather encouragingly, far from downed tools. He put his head down and kept battling all the way to the line and those traits will do him well in future assignments. The horse has always been well regarded by connections and was entered for the Grade One Royal Bond Hurdle in his novice season. He also holds an entry in this season’s Champion Hurdle and although that is a huge step up on what he has so far achieved it again highlights how highly the horse is thought of. He looks adaptable with regards to ground and he should be of interest wherever he may appear next time.
ROCKY CREEK (Paul Nicholls) – Saturday – 3.25 Doncaster – 1st in the 3m1f Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle
This was an imposing performance from the 6yo and almost a case of the further he went the better he looked. Once Daryl Jacob had engaged top gear the contest never really looked in doubt. He already has the size and scope of a chaser and he currently sits in the notebook as one to watch when heading over fences next season. This 3m+ trip looked much more to his liking than the shorter 2m5f he experienced at Exeter on his rules debut and his future surely rests over these staying trips. At the moment I’m not overly convinced he is an obvious one for the top novice hurdle races at the spring time festivals although on the back of this run he would certain be worthy of consideration. The Dr Massini gelding holds plenty of stamina in his pedigree and although he would enter calculations for future hurdle assignments it is his future as a potential staying chasing star that really has me excited.
BOTTMAN (Tim Vaughan) – Saturday – 1.30 Cheltenham – 5th in the 2m5f Novices’ Handicap Chase
This was a fine run from the Milan gelding and, in my opinion, a considerable improvement on his 3 chase starts to date. He travelled and jumped well in this competitive Novice event and battled on up the hill all the way to the line. He looked more comfortable in this larger field and I have a suspicion this is where we will see him perform at his best. He did look briefly outpaced as the field turned for home and it could well be that he needs a step up to 3 miles to get himself back in the winners enclosure; there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree and that could maybe be put to better use over a more demanding trip. This was a decent race and the 7yo acquitted himself well, there should be races in him yet.
What horses went in your notebook after this weekends action?
Drop me a comment below and let me know who you will be keeping an eye on for future engagements.