THE performance of the day over hurdles at Cheltenham last Saturday came from Unanswered (148+) who ran out an easy winner of the intermediate hurdle.
Stepping up in trip for the first time over hurdles, Tony Martin’s gelding recorded by far the fastest time figure, which he enhanced by covering the final circuit 3secs and 3.5secs quicker than Scriptwriter (110) and Annual Invictus (135) respectively.
Queen’s Gamble (127+) is also a name to carry forward for the rest of the season as she ran away with another mares’ bumper at Cheltenham, with the possibility she may be back to take on all-comers in March. Oliver Sherwood’s stable star covered the final circuit 2secs quicker than the quickest hurdle winner when adjusted for jumping the obstacles.
The only highlight on Sunday’s card was the victory of I Like To Move It (153) in the featured Greatwood Hurdle, even though the removal of three hurdles took the gloss off the race.
Reportedly over the top when down the field in the County Hurdle, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ gelding has now won twice over hurdles at Prestbury Park.
A comparison with the Grade 2 novice hurdle winner Fennor Cross (128) supports the faster overall time as I Like To Move It was 4.4secs or 22 lengths quicker, with both races missing the same number of hurdles. Nigel Twiston Davies has the International Hurdle at the December meeting in mind for his winner.
The headline act on Friday’s card was Hermes Allen (140) whose slick hurdling was too much for his rivals, even before he scampered clear after the last hurdle. As the 1.5secs difference suggests, Paul Nicholls’ gelding was only slightly faster than Sweet Will (136) overall, although the margin extended to 5secs or 25 lengths when comparing the final circuit. Contrapposto (124) was closer on the final circuit, although would still have been 1.9secs or nine and a half lengths adrift in a shortened race. Hermes Allen is likely to contest the Challow Hurdle at Newbury over Christmas.
Eyecatchers of the week
Ashroe Diamond (147+), Naas, Saturday: Worked hard for win on her hurdles debut in a race run in a good time figure, backed up by a final circuit time the equivalent of Brazil.
Missed The Cut (120+) Lingfield, Saturday: Overcame a wide trip to win in a sensational time on his all-weather debut. He will take all the beating this winter on an artificial surface.
Notlongtillmay (147+) Wetherby, Saturday: Won a novices’ handicap chase in a good time. The first three home all looked future winners.