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Brewin’upastorm too good for favourite McFabulous at Fontwell

Brewin’upastorm was an emphatic winner of Fontwell’s Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle – at the chief expense of short-priced favourite McFabulous.

Olly Murphy’s eight-year-old, on his second start back over hurdles after two unsuccessful chasing efforts earlier in the season, followed up his impressive Taunton handicap victory in this Grade Two feature.

Brewin’upastorm, fancied for last year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy only to unseat his rider at Cheltenham, has no Festival entries this time round – and will instead be seen next in the Grade One Aintree Hurdle at the Grand National meeting.

In receipt of 6lb from 4-6 shot McFabulous, he demonstrated he is a major force to be reckoned with at around this near two-and-a-half-mile trip over hurdles – striking from off the pace under Aidan Coleman to win by five and a half lengths at 3-1.

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Murphy said: “I’m absolutely chuffed with that – he’s a very, very talented horse.

“It’s great to have that winning form at graded level.

“He got a very, very bad fright over fences – and things certainly didn’t go to plan on those runs.

“But Taunton was a great stepping stone, and then to win with as much authority as he did today in that company was very pleasing.”

Paul Nicholls’ McFabulous, so impressive in last month’s rerouted Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton, rarely looked happy – making a minor early mistake and a second more significant one in front of the stands on the first circuit.

As he began to labour behind the front-running Molly Ollys Wishes, it was obvious Brewin’upastorm was going much better – and he was not hard-pressed to lead between the last two flights and move easily clear, with McFabulous having to settle for second.

“The penalties worked in his favour today,” added Murphy.

“But if they’d been reversed, and everyone was getting penalties off him, it would have made no difference.

“The way he won, he absolutely bolted up.

“He saw the two-mile-three out very well today, and the plan will be to go straight to Aintree for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One there.”

The Warwickshire trainer has always had a high opinion of Brewin’upastorm, and is delighted to have had his faith repaid.

“He’s kind of knocked on the door as a novice over hurdles and over fences and never really won a nice race, so I was just chuffed for the horse that he’s won this race,” added Murphy.

“I’d say he’ll never jump a fence again. But if he can be a good hurdler that will suit me just fine.

“There’s plenty of avenues to go down there, and he’s one to look forward to now we’ve got his confidence back.”

Brewin’upastorm in good shape for National Spirit challenge

Brewin’upastorm is reported to be in top shape as he sticks to the smaller obstacles for the Loch Lomond Whiskies National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell on Sunday.

The Olly Murphy-trained eight-year-old made successful return to hurdling with a convincing display at Taunton in January.

Before that his last run over hurdles was at Aintree in April 2019, when he was second in a Grade One contest to Reserve Tank.

He had been chasing exclusively since October that year and even ran in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December before connections decided to go back hurdling.

“He’s in good form. Obviously the revert back to hurdles worked well the last day,” said Murphy.

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“The ground will suit and the small field should suit well. He gets 6lb off the majority of the field, so we’re looking forward to running him.”

Cornerstone Lad is another coming back to hurdles after finishing second in both his starts over fences.

Trainer Micky Hammond wants to save the 2019 Fighting Fifth winner for an uninterrupted chasing campaign next term.

“We feel at this stage of the season we’d like a full novice chase season next time around and hopefully without too much Covid-19,” said Hammond.

“He’s in good form at home. It was a choice of the National Spirit or the Morebattle Hurdle (at Kelso on March 6). The ground is beginning to dry.

“He likes a bit of dig in the ground which he’s sure to get on Sunday. We’re looking forward to taking our chance in what looks a very open race.

“He’s generally a good jumper so reverting back to hurdles shouldn’t inconvenience him.”

McFabulous is a major player in the National Spirit
McFabulous is a major player in the National Spirit (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

McFabulous goes for a third Grade Two success of the season after taking the Persian Novices’ Hurdle and the rescheduled Relkeel Hurdle at Kempton.

Paul Nicholls expects McFabulous to be hard to beat.

“This has been the target for McFabulous for a while and the drying ground over the past week is all in his favour,” the Ditcheat handler told Betfair.

“He is a class act, won nicely at Kempton and though two miles and three furlongs is probably the minimum for him round this tight track he is in great shape and will hopefully take all the beating. Then he will bypass Cheltenham and wait for Aintree.”

Dan Skelton’s progressive mare Molly Ollys Wishes, Nicky Henderson’s Call Me Lord and the aofrementioned Reserve Tank from the Colin Tizzard stable make up the field of six.

Jumps courses on weather watch as cold snap bites

Jumps tracks are bracing themselves for another week of inspections and abandonments due to the continuing cold snap.

Sunday’s card at Musselburgh survived a morning inspection, but fixtures remain under threat in the coming week.

A poor weather forecast has prompted Plumpton to call an inspection at 8am on Monday to determined prospects for that day’s card.

Light snow is forecast with temperatures down to -2C overnight and not expected to rise above freezing.

Frost sheets were deployed on landings, take offs and vulnerable areas on Friday.

The prospect of a sharp frost on Sunday night has forced Carlisle to hold a precautionary inspection at 8am on Monday ahead of the same day’s meeting.

There is currently no problem with waterlogging, but there is a chance of snow on Monday.

Taunton are to inspect at noon on Monday to assess prospects for Tuesday’s card.

The course was free from frost on Sunday morning, but it is set to get colder overnight with temperatures forecast to drop to -2C on Sunday and -4C on Monday night. Daytime temperatures will struggle to get above freezing.

An precautionary inspection is also set for Market Rasen at noon on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s fixture due to the potential risk of snow and frost.

Wednesday’s meeting at Fontwell has been abandoned following an inspection on Sunday afternoon.

The course was found to be waterlogged in places and unraceable.

An inspection is set for Huntingdon at 4pm on Monday ahead of Thursday’s programme as the course is waterlogged.

The Alconbury brook has burst its banks and areas of the home straight are flooded.

Friday’s jumps card at Kempton is also in doubt due to the lake bend being waterlogged.

Officials are expecting up to 25 millimetres from a mixture of rain, sleet and snow. Minimum temperatures on Wednesday and Thursday could go down to -5C, with a maximum temperature of +2C.

Brewin’upastorm set for National Spirit date

The National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell is next on the agenda for Olly Murphy’s Brewin’upastorm.

Having disappointed on his first two starts of the season over fences, the eight-year-old was switched back to the smaller obstacles at Taunton last month and could hardly have been more impressive.

Murphy has not given his charge any entries for the Cheltenham Festival at this stage – and hopes to have a clearer idea of where his charge might head in the spring after he tests the water at Grade Two level on February 28.

He said: “The plan is to go for the National Spirit at Fontwell next. He is in good form and he has come out of Taunton really well – hopefully that will have done his confidence the world of good.

“We will stay hurdling for the time being and see how high we can go over hurdles.

“We know he has a good level of ability, but it was a good performance at Taunton.

“He is not a very big horse, so I was impressed with him carrying that sort of weight in a handicap.

“He did beat older horses, but the manner in which he did it was smart and he can only improve from that.”

Pipe delight as Umbrigado gets off the mark over fences

David Pipe was delighted to see Umbrigado make it third time lucky for the season with a battling victory at Fontwell.

Having made a promising start to his season when runner-up in a competitive handicap hurdle at Haydock, the grey was well fancied to make a successful debut over fences at Uttoxeter last month, but ultimately proved no match for marginal favourite Northofthewall.

Ridden by Tom Scudamore, the seven-year-old was the 1-2 favourite to go one better in the Subscribe To attheraces On Youtube Novices’ Chase – and as the betting predicted, it turned into a straight shootout between Umbrigado and Up The Straight.

Odds-on backers were made to sweat, with Up The Straight refusing to go down without a fight, but Pipe’s charge dug deep in the testing conditions to prevail by three and a half lengths.

Pipe said: “I thought the betting was probably wrong beforehand as I didn’t think there was much between them (Umbrigado and Up The Straight) – there was only 3lb between them on ratings.

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“Our horse has jumped and found for pressure and I thought it was a good performance.

“We’ll probably try to find another low-key race for him. He doesn’t mind this ground we’ve got at the moment, which is a big plus.”

Trainer Anthony Honeyball and conditional jockey Ben Godfrey combined for a treble on the card, with Gustavian striking first in the ‘Off The Fence’ On youtube.com/attheraces Handicap Hurdle.

FonBen Godfrey riding Lily The Pink (right) at Fontwell twell Park Races – January 14th
Ben Godfrey riding Lily The Pink (right) at Fontwell (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

It was hard work for the 6-4 favourite under a big weight, but he eventually reeled in Hasankey on the run-in and passed the post two lengths to the good.

“I was really pleased with him and if you’d seen his other races, today was probably easy viewing – I think he’s learning that he’s not as fast as he thinks he is! said Honeyball.

“Back over an extended two miles in heavy ground really suited him, the tempo was better for him as he can cruise, but he’s a bit one-paced. It’s all about picking the right race, right track and right ground for him.”

Honeyball and Godfrey were on the mark again an hour later, with 9-4 shot Lily The Pink proving strongest in the Visit attheraces.com Handicap Hurdle, before the hat-trick was completed by Swincombe Fleat (7-2) in the Sky Sports Racing HD Virgin 535 Maiden NH Flat Race.

Ben Godfrey and Swincombe Fleat come clear in the bumper
Ben Godfrey and Swincombe Fleat come clear in the bumper (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

On the latter, Honeyball said: “She’s really well related, but just went through the motions a bit on her debut at Ffos Las.

“Today she was a bit more lit up and had her racing brain on. Ben was able to sit handy and she was getting a fair bit of weight, too.

“Her dam (Swincombe Flame) won a Listed bumper at Sandown and I think we’ll probably end up there as the right horse (favourite) was second today.”

It was a first treble for Godfrey, who is now down to 5lb from 7lb.

“He’s been grafting away and has some great fun riding for the owners of Lily The Pink (Wessex Racing Club) and rides all their horses,” said Honeyball.

“We’ve gradually given him more opportunities. He’s a lot like Rex Dingle, he’s light, great to deal with and it’s no hardship giving them rides.

“I think he’s down to 5lb now but we’ve plenty of winners to use it up.”

Nassalam set Grade One assignment after Fontwell cruise

Nassalam is set to go for Grade One honours in the Finale Junior Hurdle at Chepstow later this month after confirming the impression of his debut display in Britain with a second wide-margin success at Fontwell.

Appropriately running in the One More For The Moore’s Juvenile Hurdle, the Gary Moore-trained three-year-old never gave those who were tempted by a price of 1-12 an anxious moment as he sauntered to victory.

Nassalam had won by 59 lengths on his first start for the West Sussex-based handler, also on this course, since his move from Guillaume Macaire in France.

This was just as impressive as he staked a big claim for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, for which he is a general 14-1 chance.

Holding a narrow lead from the outset, Jamie Moore gradually increased the tempo and the pressure on the opposition.

Nassalam’s jumping was slick, although he did jump slightly to the left. He pulled away at the business end to score by 49 lengths from 200-1 shot Zellerate.

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The winning trainer said: “I’m very pleased. As long as he got round he had nothing to beat, but it was very straightforward. It’s not the way to make the running, but he kept it simple.

“He’ll run in the Finale at Chepstow just after Christmas. That’s where he goes next.”

Trainer Gary Moore was delighted with the winning performance of Nassalam at Fontwell
Trainer Gary Moore was delighted with the winning performance of Nassalam at Fontwell (Simon Cooper/PA)

The winning rider was also impressed with the performance.

“The last day I was coming back from an injury and I thought we had a good chance and today I thought I’d just enjoy it. These are the horses you want to be riding,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s jumped brilliant. I’m grinning. I really like this horse. I know the opposition wasn’t the best, but it’s just the way he does it. It’s all very easy for him.

“When he schools at home the first couple of hurdles he’s exuberant. I said to dad he’s improved since his last run. He’s got a lot fresher at home.

Jamie Moore and Nassalam clear the last
Jamie Moore and Nassalam clear the last (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He felt on top of the world today. He’s a lovely little horse – he’s like a baby Sire (De Grugy) with the face on him.

“He hasn’t beaten much so far, but they can only win. I gave him a squeeze after the last and there was plenty there.

“You can’t compare him with Goshen, but he’s another nice horse we’ve got hopefully. He’s had two nice runs so we can step him up in grade now and see what he can do then.”

Moore senior reports Goshen – who had last season’s Triumph Hurdle at his mercy before his heartbreaking exit at the final flight – to be on course for the Unibet International Hurdle at Cheltenham following a pleasing workout on Tuesday.

Joshua Moore riding Bridle Loanan
Joshua Moore riding Bridle Loanan (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He worked today. All good. I was very pleased with him,” he said.

“At the moment he’s going to Cheltenham, definitely.”

The Moore stable completed a Fontwell double when Bridle Loanan (3-1 favourite) took the Thank You To The Cisswood Team Handicap Chase in the hands of Joshua Moore.

Call Off The Dogs (9-2) then made it a hat-trick when giving Jamie Moore a brace in the Christmas Offers At Champagne Piaff Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Nassalam impresses in Fontwell stroll

Nassalam confirmed the impression of his debut success in Britain with a second wide-margin success at Fontwell.

Appropriately running in the One More For The Moore’s Juvenile Hurdle, the Gary Moore-trained three-year-old never gave those who were tempted by a price of 1-12 an anxious moment as he sauntered to victory.

Nassalam had won by 59 lengths on his first start for the West Sussex-based handler, also on this course, since his move from Guillaume Macaire in France.

This was just as impressive as he staked a big claim for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, for which he is a general 14-1 chance.

Holding a narrow lead from the outset, Jamie Moore gradually increased the tempo and the pressure on the opposition.

Nassalam’s jumping was slick, although he did jump slightly to the left. He pulled away at the business end to score by 49 lengths from 200-1 shot Zellerate.

The winning rider was impressed with the performance.

“The last day I was coming back from an injury and I thought we had a good chance and today I thought I’d just enjoy it. These are the horses you want to be riding,” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s jumped brilliant. I’m grinning. I really like this horse. I know the opposition wasn’t the best, but it’s just the way he does it. It’s all very easy for him.

“When he schools at home the first couple of hurdles he’s exuberant. I said to dad he’s improved since his last run. He’s got a lot fresher at home.

Jamie Moore and Nassalam clear the last
Jamie Moore and Nassalam clear the last (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He felt on top of the world today. He’s a lovely little horse – he’s like a baby Sire (De Grugy) with the face on him.

“He hasn’t beaten much so far, but they can only win. I gave him a squeeze after the last and there was plenty there.

“You can’t compare him with Goshen, but he’s another nice horse we’ve got hopefully. He’s had two nice runs so we can step him up in grade now and see what he can do then.”

Dharma Rain awarded Fontwell prize after mass disqualification

Dharma Rain was declared the winner of the final race at Fontwell after the first six horses home were all disqualified for failing to jump the third-last hurdle.

Nine horses went to post in the “From The Horse’s Mouth Podcast” Mares’ Handicap Hurdle and while Just Henny came home first, the race was awarded to Dharma Rain, who was seventh of eight finishers, but the only runner to complete the course.

Winning jockey Jack Tudor felt the situation had been “unclear” during the race, with the racecourse’s groundstaff appearing to be in the process of dolling off the third flight from home on the final circuit due to a stricken horse.

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The first seven riders seemed to think the markers were in position and duly veered around the hurdle, although Tudor, who was at the back of the field, was not sure and jumped the obstacle, resulting in victory for Clare Hobson’s runner.

“It was made very unclear, it wasn’t done brilliantly at all. It looked as if the markers were in the correct position, it was a 50-50 call, but I went with my gut instinct,” Tudor told Sky Sports Racing.

“I jumped it, but it was very unclear. The others missed it, but I could see that the markers were behind the hurdle, so I went with my gut instinct and jumped it – but it was very unclear.”

Page Fuller, who was in the leading group on her mount Queen Among Kings, added: “The horse broke down at the hurdle, I was further back in the field and from where I was, the markers looked like they were in the hurdle.

“But once we’d gone round the hurdle, you could see they were past the hurdle. There was a flag being waved and the markers looked as if they were in the hurdle, but until you got around the hurdle, you couldn’t see they (markers) were behind.”

The stewards inquired into the race, interviewing Tudor along with fellow jockeys Jerry McGrath, Brendan Powell, Lucy Gardner, Harry Reed, Tabitha Worsley, Niall Houlihan and Fuller, plus the clerk of the course, the racecourse head groundsman and an additional member of the groundstaff.

Having heard all the evidence and viewed recordings of the incident, the stewards revised the placings to make Dharma Rain the winner and only finisher, with all other runners, barring Bluebell Sally who was pulled up, disqualified for taking the wrong course.

However, no penalties were imposed on any riders as the stewards took into account “the poor visibility, and the illusion that the chevrons had been placed in the hurdle – which was caused by the chevrons being carried across the course behind the hurdle, which gave riders’ cause for concern for the safety of all involved”.

A report will be forwarded to the head office of the British Horseracing Authority.

Scholfield suffers broken leg in freak Fontwell fall

Nick Scholfield is hoping he may yet be able to return in time for the busy Christmas schedule after breaking his leg in a freak incident at Fontwell.

The multiple Grade One-winning jockey suffered the injury on Friday when he was cannoned into by a loose horse as he crossed the finishing line in fourth on Shintori in the Star Sports Owner’s Club £20K Guarantee Handicap Chase.

He was due to ride Champagne Court in the feature Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase at Wincanton on Saturday – but will be out of action for several weeks at least.

“I’ve fractured my tibia,” said Scholfield.

“I hope I can get back as quickly as possible – if I could do it in six weeks, that would be what I’m hoping.”

Go Steady had unseated his jockey Bridget Andrews at the third-last, but then ran loose before careering into Scholfield.

He admits his frustration at the injury, just as the new National Hunt season begins to step up a gear, but acknowledges many others are encountering far more trying times during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“In these times, this is not so bad,” he added.

“It was unusual circumstances – something you don’t expect  – so it’s frustrating from that aspect.

“I’d crossed the line and finished the race on Shintori.

“I was just pulling up, and a horse that had fallen was galloping (loose) and it has just ‘T-boned’ my horse, and my leg was stuck in the middle, and it caused me to fall off.”