Peking Opera performance delights Gary Moore

Former Irish Derby fourth Peking Opera made a successful start to his jumping career with a solid win at Sandown.

The son of Galileo was bought for 100,000 guineas after also scoring in Listed company for Aidan O’Brien and was sent off the 13-8 joint-favourite for the Virgin Bet Daily Extra Places Novices’ Hurdle.

Niall Houlihan had his mount tucked in behind front-runner Glengolly for much of the way and his jumping was smooth.

Peking Opera was almost forced to push on when a big gap opened up on the inside entering the home straight and quickly took control of proceedings.

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Fellow market leader The Good Doctor threw down a challenge between the final two flights but was giving his rival 22lb in weight and was readily seen off on the run-in, going down by a length and three-quarters.

Winning trainer Gary Moore told Racing TV: “I expected him to run very, very well, but I’ve had two good horses beaten in this race over the last two years, so that did worry me.

“He’s a very lazy work horse at home and I couldn’t believe he was a different horse on the track. You could work him with a donkey at home and he’d just work with it.

“He’s always loved his jumping though, the more we’ve schooled him, the better he’s enjoyed it, so I think it’s turned him round.

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“Niall was told not to hit the front until the last and he had to hit the front early, so it’s a good result.

“I brought him to a stiff track because I thought that would suit him on his Flat form, but I’m just going to change things now and I think he’s got the pace to go for the Adonis (Kempton, February 24).”

The JCB Triumph Hurdle would then be the ultimate target, but Peking Opera was pushed out to 33-1 from 20-1 by Betfair for Cheltenham Festival glory.

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