NUBE Negra (Dan/Harry Skelton) was left with a simple task in the Grade 2 Shloer Chase after the defection of Edwardstone, and he led everywhere bar the run to the first fence, outjumping and outclassing his two remaining rivals to gain a bloodless win by eight lengths over Ganapathi (Paddy Neville/Gavin Sheehan).
The winner’s SP of 1/10 tells the story, and he didn’t need to run to his best to win, although it was encouraging to see him jump so well.
He has always been considered best fresh and is likely to miss the Tingle Creek to take in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas.
The late removal of both hurdles in the straight due to low sun spoiled the Greatwood as a spectacle, and few really showed with a winning chance, but I Like To Move It (Nigel/Sam Twiston-Davies) impressed in winning under 12st, after looking to have a fight on his hands with well-backed favourite Gin Coco (Harry Fry/Johnny Burke) turning for home.
He eventually ran out an impressive five-and-a-half-length winner, with the pair pulling 13 lengths clear of Alan King’s Harbour Lake (Tom Cannon).
The winner was returned at 17/2, and although this win came off a mark of 142, leaving him some way shy in the ratings compared to the Champion Hurdle principals, he was beating a well-handicapped an unexposed horse, and last season’s Betfair Hurdle runner-up has clearly progressed again in the interim.
He can expect a hike of at least 10lb for this win, and his future lies in graded company, with the International Hurdle here next month firmly on his agenda with a view to a Champion Hurdle bid in the spring.
Fennor Stays Best
The Grade 2 Sharp Novices’ Hurdle went for export as John McConnell maintained his excellent record at the track courtesy of Fennor Cross (Simon Torrens) who went off the 3/1 second-favourite and drew clear late to score by three and a half lengths from Ukantango (Olly Murphy/Sean Bowen), who in turn was three and a quarter lengths in front of favourite Springwell Bay (Jonjo O’Neill/Jonjo Jr).
The pace set by Norman Lee’s She Is Electric was strong, and although the runner-up looked like winning as he crossed the last in front, he tired visibly up the hill as the winner’s stamina kicked in.
As with the Greatwood, only five hurdles were jumped.
Rest of the card
Paddy Neville had his first winner since taking out a licence to train in Britain as The Real Whacker jumped best to land the 3m novice chase.
Neville gained Grade 3 success with his homebred mare Macville on home soil a decade ago and has relocated to Leyburn in North Yorkshire where he shares facilities with Ann Duffield.
Milton Harris was bullish about the chances of 12/1 shot Gentle Slopes in the listed bumper, describing the gelding as the best he’s trained, and he certainly lived up to the positive billing by beating School Days Over by four lengths.
The first two, and favourite Katate Dori all look capable of making a successful switch to hurdles, all three having plenty about them physically.
Jonbon jumps to a smooth chase debut
JONBON (Nicky Henderson/Aidan Coleman) was the big midweek draw at Warwick, where he made a flawless chase debut to beat Monmiral easily by seven lengths, with the winning margin over a smart prospect doing him scant justice.
He jumped very well overall, noticeably quicker that Monmiral through the air except when fiddling the fourth last, and he was able to coast home from the final turf, prompting bookmakers to slash him to a general 2/1 for the Arkle in March.
It went largely unnoticed that Emma Dwan from Co Tipperary rode her first winner on her first racecourse ride at Newcastle on Tuesday night.
A graduate of RACE, Emma is based with trainer Nigel Tinkler and only recently took out her amateur licence.
It was Tinkler - for whom Emma’s mother Sam has worked as secretary for three decades - who supplied her with the Newcastle mount on 10/1 shot Athollblair Boy and the partnership came off best in a three-way photo-finish.
Dwan’s maternal grandfather is the late Mark Birch, seven times Cock o’ The North and twice successful aboard Sea Pigeon in the Chester Cup, while her father is Willie Dwan, who rode 26 winners for legendary trainer Jimmy Fitzgerald, the highlight being the Champion Bumper at Aintree on Native Field.