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Hacker Des Places

Hacker Des Places was probably value for more than the half a length by which he won the concluding two-mile-one-furlong handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. Keen through the early stages of the race, he travelled well down the back straight for Angus Cheleda, just behind the leaders. He jumped the third last flight well, and he moved up into a share of the lead on the run to the second last, moving into the lead as they rounded the home turn. He kicked for home as they straightened up, but that is a long way home on the New Course at Cheltenham. He moved over towards the favoured stands rail, but he drifted off it on the run to the final flight, where he jumped to his left, which left a gap between him and the stands rail through which Might I could challenge. The challenger stayed on well up the hill, and Hacker Des Place drifted towards his left, but he kept going forward, he showed a really willing attitude to keep going as well as he did to get home by a neck.

It was a game performance by Paul Nicholls’ horse, who continues to go forward. Third in the Imperial Cup at Sandown last March off a mark of 133, and winner of the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting off the same mark, he had shaped encouragingly on his debut this season in finishing second in a handicap hurdle at Ascot in October off a mark of 138. He had been off since then, but he made light of that absence, and it appears that he is versatile in terms of ground and course configuration. He holds an entry in the Betfair Hurdle next Saturday, a race in which he would be 1lb poorly-in under his 5lb penalty, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Cheltenham, 28th January 2023