Booster Bob could have an exciting future having stayed on strongly in testing ground to claim the Betfair Claremont Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown.
Sent off the 5-6 favourite for the Listed event, Olly Murphy’s five-year-old had previously relished testing conditions when claiming a Uttoxeter novice event by 18-lengths.
However, even he struggled to get into a rhythm in the deep ground at the Esher track and relied on his class to overhaul Helnwein once strenuously ridden after the last by Sean Bowen.
“I was never happy,” said Murphy. “I don’t think he jumped great for him and he loves that ground, but they went very steady and turned it into a sprint which wouldn’t have suited.
“He’s got a lot of ability and I don’t think he did a lot right today. I don’t think the hood suits him now, he wants that off.
“They went very steady and when you go steady in a tactical race, sat last of three isn’t the best place to be. He was very free as a bumper horse and he’s come a long way in a short period of time.”
Despite seeing Booster Bob as both a horse for further and fences, it is Haydock’s Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle (January 20) up next. However, a trip to the Cheltenham Festival appears off the cards for this season.
“Do I think he is a horse for the Supreme? No is the answer,” added Murphy.
“I think he’s an out and out chaser and he will probably go to Haydock now for the Supreme trial at the end of January – bad ground, two miles. He’s crying out for two and a half, but he can race with the choke out and I would be just worried about going two-and-a-half just yet.
“I wont blow his mind now this season. If there was a bit of slow ground at Aintree or something like that, then maybe. But going round Cheltenham in a 16-runner Grade One isn’t for this lad at the moment.”
Lucy Wadham’s Pretending made amends for a fall when going well at Fakenham recently when finally getting her head in front in the Betfair Supports Racing With Pride Mares’ Handicap Hurdle, while Tom Lacey’s Operation Manna justified 5-2 favouritism to bring up a hat-trick in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle.
Lacey suggested the seven-year-old is now deserving of a rest after three quick appearances and although Paddy Power go 14-1 series finale at the Cheltenham Festival, Operation Manna’s trainer was unsure whether that would be on the agenda for the spring.
Lacey said: “He’s a horse who has benefitted from another year on his back and he’s raw and he’s game isn’t he.
“He loves that ground and jumped very well out of it, which is always a concern.
“He’s run three times and won three relatively quickly and the horse deserves a break after going three miles round there. We won’t be in any rush until the end of January. You would look for something similar and it will stop raining at some point.”
Gary Moore’s Spirit D’Aunou could join stablemate Hansard in Ascot’s Betfair Exchange Trophy on December 23 having toughed it out to land the Rachael Blackmore Serial Winners Fund Handicap Hurdle.
“The ground probably wasn’t soft for him (at Cheltenham) last time and they went very slow and his first run of the season he was very fresh,” said Josh Moore, assistant to his father.
“He looked well beaten coming down the hill, but hit the line well which is always a good sign at Cheltenham – it is always good when a horse finishes well round there.
“It was always the plan to come here and with the benefit of the run he was less keen and I’m glad it worked out.
“I think you can look towards the really competitive two-mile handicap hurdles for the rest of the season and I just hope it will be soft ground for them days because I think he’s better on it.
“He’s in the Betfair Exchange Trophy and that comes fairly soon, but if he’s fit and well and conditions are right for that, it would probably be the next step for him.
“We’ve done well the last two weekends and they (Spirit D’Aunou and Hansard) could end up taking on each other.”
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