Williams The Big Winner As Winter Action Warms Up
Present Repeats Past As Badger Frosts Over
Saturdays big jumps contest came at Wincanton with the 2017 edition of the Badger Ales Trophy. In what was a competitive renewal the race came down to a battle between Paul Nicholl’s Present Man and Final Nudge from the yard of David Dennis. As is so often the case in these major contests, it was the Nicholls runner who came out on top in a thrilling finish.
The soft ground was something of an imponderable for Present Man but this much improved performer showed an admirable attitude in seeing it out resolutely to the line. The Grand National looks a realistic long-term goal for the seven year old son of Presenting now, making him a 33/1 shot for a race in which his neat, fluent jumping will prove a huge asset.
The big story from the race though really concerned the young lady in the saddle. Successful at the Cheltenham Festival back in March, the emerging talent that is Bryony Frost got everything out of Present Man here, with the fact that her father Jimmy Frost road the winner of this very race 21 years ago adding extra resonance to the victory.
Williams Saunters To Double Success
This weekend also marked what was officially the last day of the flat turf season, with Doncaster’s November Handicap card bringing down the curtain on what has been another spectacular year. The big race itself fell to the in-form Ian Williams as the aptly named Saunter cruised to success on what was just his second start for the yard.
Viewed as a dual-purpose performer, Saunter has the varied options of either a flat campaign out in Dubai or a spin over jumps as his next step. Wherever he turns out, he could hardly be in better hands as Williams also ably demonstrated his National Hunt prowess as his London Prize claimed the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton in what was a memorable 20 minutes for the trainer on Saturday afternoon.
Pad Launches Arkle Bid And Might Bites At Sandown
In terms of class of runner on show it was the Sunday action which really lit up the weekend and provided plenty of food for thought when looking at the season ahead. The star attraction at Sandown was Nicky Henderson’s talented, but at times wayward, Might Bite. Previously seemingly intent on attempting to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the eight year old made his seasonal return in the Future Stars contest at Sandown.
No heart in the mouth stuff this time though as Might Bite jumped superbly to slam a small but select field by a resounding eight lengths. Looking every inch a future star, he is now into 11/4 for the King George and 8/1 with the same firm for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The action over in Ireland meanwhile gave us a new favourite for the Arkle Chase. A dual Grade 1 winner over hurdles, the early evidence suggests that Willie Mullins, Footpad may prove to be an even more potent force over fences.
The manner in which he thrashed the well-regarded Brelade in the Beginners Chase on Navans card could scarcely have been more impressive and resulted in him assuming favouritism for the Festival contest at 8/1.
More Clues To Come At The November Open Meeting
This weekend sees more top class jumping action with Cheltenham’s excellent three-day Open Meeting which kicks off on Friday. Kylemore Lough, Foxtail Hill, Cloudy Dream and more lock horns in what looks set to be a cracking Betvictor Gold Cup on Saturday, whilst Sunday sees the return of Triumph Hurdle winner, Defi Du Seuil in the Greatwood Hurdle.