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Oscars Well

Oscars Well impressed through every stage of the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday, handing out a five-and-a-half length beating to a high class field of novices, including the Grade 1-winning Zaidpour, and the potentially top class pair Shot From The Hip and Hidden Universe.

Jessica Harrington’s gelding was keen enough early despite dropping down to two miles two furlongs from two and a half miles, and the leaders going off at a decent clip. He raced alongside the favourite Zaidpour for much of the contest but his jumping was constantly quicker than Zaidpour’s, indeed his jumping was very quick throughout and was a definite feature of this display.

He easily tagged onto the group of five that pulled away from the rest turning out of the back straight and soon made smooth progress to come there challenging Hidden Universe and Shot From The Hip early in the home straight despite having to be switched to the outside from hard against the rail. He moved up willingly at the last and was not fully extended to draw over five lengths clear.

The son of Oscar has been a different horse since being sent hurdling. Actually, he was ill for much of last season, so it is reasonable to assume that we didn’t see the best of him as a bumper horse. After finishing second to Gran Torino on his hurdling debut at Thurles – because he never won a bumper, he kept getting ballotted out of his early hurdles races, with the result that his trainer couldn’t really train him for his debut as she didn’t really know when his debut would be – he won well when stepped up to two and a half miles at Punchestown. Upped to Grade 1 company next time, he ran on strongly to land the Navan Novice Hurdle a week before Christmas. He is clearly improving all the time, this latest effort was very good indeed, and he will probably be even better on better ground (Oscar’s progeny go well on good ground, and his rider Robbie Power maintains that he will be better on it) and when stepped back up to two and a half miles. He has shown he has the required blend of pace and stamina to cope with the tempo of the Neptune Hurdle at Cheltenham, he jumps well and he is improving at the right time, with has four and a half weeks to prepare for the Festival. He has a favourite’s chance in the Neptune.

12th February 2011