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Terrefort

Terrefort put up a really impressive performance to win the Scilly Isles Chase.  He and Cyrname vied for the lead over the first seven fences, but Terrefort moved on as they started down the back straight final time, and he wasn’t headed after that.  He and Cyrname had a real tussle, but he battled on well to beat a highly talented horse in a good time, the pair of them clear of their three rivals.

This was Terrefort’s eighth run over fences, but it was just his second run in Britain for Nicky Henderson.  Impressive in winning on his British debut at Huntingdon, this was another step forward from that, and he could progress again.  He is only five.  Better ground would be an unknown, all his form is on soft ground, but if he did handle better ground, he would be a big player in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham if he were to go there.  It is interesting that the previous two winners of the Scilly Isles Chase, Top Notch and Bristol De Mai, both, like Terrefort, owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, both finished second in the JLT Chase.

Sandown, 3rd February 2018


Ubak

Ubak did well to keep on as well as he did to finish sixth in the Heroes Handicap Hurdle over 2m 7f, given that he raced prominently from flagfall and that he raced in the centre of the track up the home straight.  Gary Moore’s horse chased the leader Fourth Act from early, and he was passed by the closers early in the home straight, but he kept on well from the second last flight after he had been passed.  The first four home were all held up early and all four raced towards the stands side over the final two flights, probably on the best of the ground, so Ubak did well to finish sixth.

He was a 25/1 shot here, and he is a 10-year-old who looks exposed, but he had high-class form in 2016, he won a Grade 3 handicap hurdle over 3m at Aintree in April 2016 and he finished fourth behind Unowhatimeanharry in the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting that November.  This was just his second run back since that Newbury run in November 2016, and he is back down to a mark of 145, which is 6lb lower than his peak.  He could be a well-handicapped horse now, he ran better than the bare form of Saturday’s run suggests, and he could be a lively outsider in another good staying handicap hurdle.  That Aintree race that he won two years ago would be a legitimate target for him.

Sandown, 3rd February 2018


Vieux Morvan

Vieux Morvan ran a big race to finish second in the 2m 5f handicap chase.  Always prominent up on the outside, Joseph O’Brien’s horse was a little keen through the early stages of the race for JJ Slevin, but his jumping was good and he jumped on into the lead past De Benno at the third last fence.  He travelled well in front, he jumped the second last fence well and he was about 2l clear of his field as they rounded the home turn.  He looked the most likely winner by far on the approach to the final fence, he traded at 1.37 in-running, but he just couldn’t repel Last Goodbye, who finished strongly on the near side probably on the best of the ground.  He was beaten by 9l by the winner in the end, but he finished 9l clear of the third horse Uncle Danny, and the race was run in a decent time, 1.4secs faster than the time that Monalee clocked in winning the Grade 1 novices’ chase run over the same course and distance earlier on the day.

The Voix Du Nord gelding is nine years old now and he has had plenty of racing, but he has raced just twice in Ireland for Joseph O’Brien.  His first run for his new trainer was in the Paddy Power Chase over 3m at Leopardstown over Christmas, when he belied odds of 40/1 by finishing fifth, leading early and leading into the home straight before he weakened.  Sunday’s run was a step up on that, and there is every chance that he will step forward again.

The handicapper raised him 4lb for Sunday’s run to a mark of 137, but that was fair, and he should still be competitive in a good handicap chase off that mark.  This intermediate distance may suit him even better than 3m, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

Leopardstown, 4th February 2018


Dounikos

Dounikos ran a cracker to finish fourth in the Grade 1 Flogas Chase over 2m 5f.  He travelled and jumped well in behind, and he came under pressure just after they jumped the third last fence as they raced around towards the second last, but he responded to that pressure.  He made nice ground in fourth place on the run to the final fence to jump the obstacle just behind the front rank, but he got squeezed out of it a little as Monalee and Invitation Only converged in front of him.  He probably wouldn’t have beaten the winner, but he might have been better than fourth without that incident. He stayed on gamely all the way to the line, leaving the impression that he could do even better stepped up in trip from this 2m 5f.

The Gordon Elliott-trained gelding won his maiden hurdle over 2m 7f at Thurles last season, but he is shaping up to be a much better chaser, and he was two for two over fences going into Sunday’s race, both wins achieved over 2m 4f.  It looked like he was a little fortunate to win the Grade 2 novices’ chase at Limerick over Christmas at the time, it appeared as if Al Boum Photo was travelling better when he came down at the final fence, but there may not have been much between them.  There wasn’t much between them again here, Al Boum Photo was only three parts of a length in front of him in second place, and that was after Dounikos has been squeezed.  The Gigginstown House horse has won on good ground too, he won that maiden hurdle on good ground, so he will be of interest as we move into the spring. He could be a lively outsider in the RSA Chase or the National Hunt Chase.

Leopardstown, 4th February 2018


Mr Adjudicator

Mr Adjudicator put up a really good performance to win the Grade 1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle.  Settled nicely by Paul Townend, last of the five runners through the early stages of the race, he moved up nicely into third place behind Espoir D’Allen and Farclas on the run to the second last flight, he jumped that obstacle well and moved up well on the outside.  Three wide around the home turn, Willie Mullins’ horse travelled best of all past the two furlong pole.  He and Farclas moved on from the favourite, and Mr Adjudicator picked up at the final flight fractionally in front of the Gigginstown House horse.  The two horses battled well from there, but it always looked like Mr Adjudicator was getting on top, and he did, going on to win by a length and a quarter.      Both Mr Adjudicator and Farclas enhanced their respective reputations, the pair of them pulled well clear and the winning time was good, 1.8secs faster than the time that Samcro clocked in winning the Grade 1 Deloitte Hurdle 35 minutes later.  Both horses are big players now in the Triumph Hurdle picture.

The Spring Hurdle has been a top pointer to the Triumph Hurdle in recent years. Our Conor won both races in 2013, while Unaccompanied, Hisaabaat, Guitar Pete, Footpad and Mega Fortune all finished placed in the Triumph Hurdle after winning the Spring Hurdle, and Countrywide Flame, Tiger Roll and Ivanovich Gorbatov all won the Triumph Hurdle after finishing in the first four in the Spring Hurdle.

Rated 81 on the flat and an impressive winner of an 11-furlong handicap at Killarney in August last year on his final run for Joe Murphy, the Camacho gelding was impressive in winning his maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas on his debut over hurdles and his debut for Willie Mullins.  He wore a hood that day, but it was left off on Sunday and he was good without it. He improved significantly from his first run to his second over hurdles, and there is every chance that he will improve again.  He is a very interesting juvenile hurdler and he could have a big say in the Triumph Hurdle.

Leopardstown, 4th February 2018