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Quilixios triumphs in style for brilliant Blackmore

Quilixios gave Rachael Blackmore a remarkable sixth victory of the week at the Cheltenham Festival when landing the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Blackmore can do nothing wrong and produced another brilliant ride on the Cheveley Park Stud-owned four-year-old, trained by Henry de Bromhead.

She had Quilixios (2-1) up with the pace from the outset, with rank outsider Talking About You for company.

When that horse weakened coming down the hill with two flights left, Blackmore asked Quilixios for his effort and got first run on the field.

Adagio tried to cover the move, but was outclassed by the unbeaten Quilixios, who powered up the hill to win by three and a quarter lengths.

Adagio held Haut En Couleurs by a head for second place. Zanahiyr, the 11-8 favourite, was fourth after failing to get in a blow.

Quilixios – a recent transfer to the De Bromhead yard having previously been trained by the suspended Gordon Elliott – was given a quote of 12-1 for next year’s Champion Hurdle with Betfair and 14-1 with Coral.

De Bromhead said: “It’s been an incredible week.

“He’s a lovely horse, but we’ve only just got him. He’s a gorgeous horse and I’m pleased for Cheveley Park, as they are great supporters of ours.

“All credit to Gordon and his team as he looked amazing on joining us, we’ve done very little with him.

“We knew he jumped really well, and had been really impressive before today and he’s a lovely looking horse. He’ll be a nice chaser in time.

“I wouldn’t know about next year, we’ll have a chat and see what everyone wants to do.”

Blackmore admitted her parents are thoroughly enjoying her exploits at home in Ireland.

She said: “They’re getting a great kick out of it, so it’s brilliant. I know they’d have loved to have been here today, like a lot of people.

“I’m just happy I’m here and these horses are here.”

David Pipe said of Adagio: “I’d normally never happily take second, but we’d have taken that before the race as it looked an above-average Triumph.

Quilixios sees off his rivals in the Triumph Hurdle
Quilixios sees off his rivals in the Triumph Hurdle (Michael Steele/PA)

“He had colic not so long ago, so to do that was fantastic, and remember he came out of a claimer. We’ll see how he comes out of this, but he’s quite a tough horse and Aintree is the obvious place if he runs again. There will be lots more good days to have with him.”

Willie Mullins, trainer of third home Haut En Couleurs and Tax For Max, who was sixth, said: “It was a very good run and we’re delighted with him. He jumped and galloped and he’ll come on a lot for that. We’ll head to Punchestown we think.

“Tax For Max was very green and it’ll be educational for him for the future.”

Lisa O’Neill, representing Denise Foster, trainer of Zanahiyr, who had to settle for fourth, said: “It was a little bit disappointing. He probably ran a bit too keen and struggled to get up the hill after that. We’ll take him home and see how he is after the run before making a decision about running again this season.”

Alan King said of fifth-placed Tritonic: “He just floundered away a bit on that ground. We’ll see about Aintree, but he might go back on the Flat instead.”

Cheltenham Festival day four – Another Photo-finish just what Mullins is looking for

Friday is the fourth and final day of the Cheltenham Festival – and the day when the sport’s best steeplechasers line-up for the most revered race of the jumps calendar, the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Al Boum Photo is the star attraction as he bids to win the race for the third successive season for his trainer Willie Mullins, potentially emulating greats such as Best Mate and Arkle in the process.

The most precocious four-year-olds in the hurdling sphere will battle it out in the JCB Triumph Hurdle, with the Denise Foster-trained Zanahiyr undoubtedly the one to beat on what he has done so far.

Mullins is again responsible for a leading fancy in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle as Stattler represents the yard in the race won by Monkfish last season.

The final afternoon also means the leading trainer and jockey titles can be awarded as the sun sets on what is hopefully the first and last Cheltenham Festival held behind closed doors.

Three in a row for Al Boum Photo?

Paul Townend celebrates with Al Boum Photo after winning the Gold Cup
Paul Townend celebrates with Al Boum Photo after winning the Gold Cup (Jacob King/PA)

Al Boum Photo has a chance to become one of only five horses to win three Gold Cups as he lines up in the race that is the pinnacle of the jumps season. His preparation has run along similar lines to previous years with an easy win at Tramore on New Year’s Day, giving little away with regards to his chance against the likes of Champ, last season’s Ryanair winner, and Grade One Savills Chase champion A Plus Tard. The latter is the mount of Champion Hurdle heroine Rachael Blackmore – and do not discount Bryony Frost on Frodon, either.

Will Zanahiyr be triumphant?

Zanahiyr has been hugely impressive so far
Zanahiyr has been hugely impressive so far (PA)

The young stars of the hurdling division assemble for the Triumph Hurdle, with Zanahiyr the leading light. The gelding is now campaigned by Denise Foster and will face stiff competition from Alan King’s Tritonic, who was impressive when taking the Adonis Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton. Henry de Bromhead also has a live chance with the undefeated Quilixios, who won the Grade One Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle before leaving Gordon Elliott’s Cullentra yard.

Stattler set for Albert Bartlett stardom

Stattler is yet another leading chance for Willie Mullins
Stattler is yet another leading chance for Willie Mullins (PA)

The line-up for the three-mile Albert Bartlett Hurdle is led by Stattler, but Foster’s Fakiera is also a well-fancied runner despite finishing two lengths behind the former when both horses were beaten at Leopardstown by Gaillard Du Mesnil. Bringing less prestigious but more consistent form to the table Paul Nicholls’ Barbados Buck’s, who has triumphed in three successive novice hurdles in the run-up to the Festival.

Bonus chasing

Harry Skelton and Langer Dan (left) at Sandown
Harry Skelton and Langer Dan (left) at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Saturday’s easy Paddy Power Imperial Cup winner Langer Dan will bid for the £50,000 bonus which has only ever been won three times after making the cut for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle with two to spare. The participation of Dan Skelton’s five-year-old was in the balance until the 48-hour declaration stage, as despite picking up a 5lb penalty he still needed around 20 of those above him to come out. However, he gets into the race close to the foot of the handicap and will be 5lb ‘well in’, having been raised 10lb since his Sandown win.

Alan King anticipating Triumph ‘battle’ for Tritonic

Alan King is confident he has Tritonic in top form as he prepares for a “proper battle” against a clutch of fellow prospective stars in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

Even before embarking on his so far unbeaten hurdles career, which includes a highly-impressive Grade Two win in Kempton’s Adonis on just his second start under three weeks ago, Tritonic took King to centre stage on the Flat as a Royal Ascot runner-up last summer.

The Barbury Castle trainer therefore has every right to consider him a leading light at the top level – but he has great respect for Friday’s opposition from either side of the Irish Sea.

Zanahiyr, like Tritonic unbeaten over jumps, has spent most of the winter as ante-post favourite.

He will represent Denise Foster, as he bids for a fourth successive victory – while his Irish compatriot Quilixios, transferred this month from Gordon Elliott to Henry de Bromhead’s stable, is already a four-time winner after his Grade One success in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival.

The home contingent has a second strong contender too, in David Pipe’s Adagio – who won both the Triumph Trial over course and distance in December and the rescheduled Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow a month later.

Tritonic was yet to race over hurdles at that point, but has since surged towards the top of the market, and King is delighted with his preparation.

“He’s absolutely A1,” he said.

“I don’t think the track (at Cheltenham) will be any different to him, but the opposition is a lot stronger.

“I’ve got great respect for David Pipe’s horse and the Irish horses – so it’s going to be a proper battle.”

Tritonic’s eyecatching Flat rating of 99 is an obvious indication that he could go right to the top over jumps.

“I hope so,” added King.

“But if he can do the talking on Friday now, we’ll see what happens.”

Quilixios, who has won his races by an aggregate of more than 50 lengths, also boasts fine credentials for the Champion Hurdle-winning partnership of De Bromhead and jockey Rachael Blackmore.

Chris Richardson, managing director of owners Cheveley Park Stud, echoes King’s respect for the opposition – albeit in a select field of eight.

“It looks a very good race,” he said.

“The fields might be a little bit smaller at Cheltenham this year, but all the top horses are there.”

Quilixios was an impressive winner at the Dublin Racing Festival
Quilixios was an impressive winner at the Dublin Racing Festival (Niall Carson/PA)

Quilixios could yet be one of them, and Richardson added: “He’s done nothing wrong – he’s four from four.

“He was most impressive when well clear at Leopardstown last time.”

Adagio has done plenty to fuel Pipe’s dreams of victory in a race which launched his father Martin’s great training career when Baron Blakeney won it as an unconsidered 66-1 shot 40 years ago.

In his three wins from four starts over hurdles, he has proved all conditions come alike to him.

“The great thing about Adagio is that it doesn’t really matter what the ground is and he’s got Cheltenham form,” said Pipe, who reports Tom Scudamore’s mount back in rude health after being briefly laid low in mid-winter.

“He had a little colic after his last run and was a bit quiet in himself.

“(Normally) he’s a real character who loves his food and he was just off games for the week.

“He’s been in very good form since, and jumps and travels.

“It’s a red-hot Triumph Hurdle. Is he good enough? We’ll find out at Cheltenham.”

There are also two Willie Mullins’ hopefuls – Haut En Couleurs, a narrow winner on his only French start but unraced for current connections – and Tax For Max.

Completing the eight are Nigel Hawke’s Historic Heart – runner-up to Adagio in the Triumph Trial – and Sean Curran’s filly Talking About You, who is the most experienced hurdler in the field with four wins from her 10 starts.

Zanahiyr and Tritonic clash in Triumph Hurdle

Tritonic and Zanahiyr are among eight juveniles declared for the JCB Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday.

Zanahiyr is unbeaten in three starts over hurdles this season and edges favouritism for Denise Foster, who recently took over the training licence at Cullentra House from the suspended Gordon Elliott.

The Alan King-trained Tritonic, who was runner-up on the Flat at Royal Ascot last summer, is the clear pick of the home team after successive jumping wins at Ascot and Kempton.

Next in the betting is Quilixios, who is three from three since arriving in Ireland and impressed in Grade One company at last month’s Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

The Cheveley Park Stud-owned four-year-old will make his debut for Henry de Bromhead under Rachael Blackmore after being moved from Elliott’s yard earlier in the month.

David Pipe has high hopes for course-and-distance winner Adagio, while Willie Mullins runs Tax For Max and Haut En Couleurs, who was a narrow winner on his only previous start in France.

Historic Heart (Nigel Hawke) and Talking About You (Sean Curran) complete the octet.

A much larger field of 17 runners have been declared for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

Barbados Buck’s runs in the Albert Bartlett
Barbados Buck’s runs in the Albert Bartlett (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Leading Irish hopes for the three-mile contest include the Mullins-trained Stattler and Foster’s pair of Fakiera and Torygraph.

Paul Nicholls is responsible for two of the big British-trained contenders in Barbados Buck’s and Threeunderthrufive.

Fergal O’Brien’s Alaphilippe and Adrimel from Tom Lacey’s yard are others to consider in a competitive heat.

Elimay is part of a strong Mullins team in the Mares' Chase
Elimay is part of a strong Mullins team in the Mares’ Chase (Brian Lawless/PA)

Petit Mouchoir heads a maximum field of 26 runners for the McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle, while likely favourite Billaway heads 18 declared for the St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup.

Mullins appears to hold the aces in the inaugural Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase, with market principals Elimay and Colreevy, as well as Salsaretta and Cabaret Queen, part of an 11-strong line-up.

Ireland’s champion trainer is also responsible for the likely favourite in the concluding Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle in the form of the JP McManus-owned Gentleman De Mee.

Triumph contender Adagio is Pipe’s pick of the Festival

David Pipe views JCB Triumph Hurdle contender Adagio as his best chance of a winner at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

The Pond House handler has enjoyed a fine season to date – and believes he has assembled a “small but select team” for the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds, which gets under way in less than a fortnight’s time.

Pipe acknowledges this year’s Festival will have a different feel to it because of Covid restrictions, but is nevertheless relishing the prospect of sending his stable stars to the Cotswolds.

Speaking on a press Zoom call following publication of the weights for the Festival handicaps, Pipe said: “Obviously it’s different this year, but everyone is still trying to prepare their horses for Cheltenham.

“Our horses are in good form and have been running well. We’ve got a small but select team going there.

“I think we’re in a positive mood. It’s amazing how the atmosphere in any yard changes in the two weeks before Cheltenham – when you’ve got a few horses going there with a chance.

“Everyone gets a bit uptight and excited. Most of the hard work has been done, and now it’s a case of ticking them over and getting them there on the day.

“It’s very hard to win at Cheltenham. That’s why it’s very special when you do.”

The Pipe squad is led by Adagio, who has won three of his four starts over hurdles this season – most recently claiming Grade One honours in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow in January.

“My best chance is probably in the toughest race – Adagio,” he said.

“It looks an ultra-competitive Triumph Hurdle, but our fellow hasn’t done much wrong and is improving with every run.

“After his last run he did have a little colic, which meant he missed a week, but he’s had a good preparation since.

“It’s obviously a concern at the time, but since then everything has gone well.

“He’ll have an away-day somewhere before Cheltenham, and we’re very much looking forward to it.”

Remastered on his way to victory at Ascot
Remastered on his way to victory at Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

One of the yard’s other big hopes is Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase winner Remastered, who holds three entries.

Pipe added: “I thought it was a really good performance (at Ascot). It probably wasn’t a great Reynoldstown, but he beat the horses that were put in front of him and battled really well all the way to the line.

“He’ll either go for the Ultima or the National Hunt Chase. It will probably come down to ground – if it is softer ground maybe the Ultima, if it’s better ground then maybe the three-mile-six-furlong novice.

“A lot of his form is on soft or heavy ground, so he would prefer it to be on the slower side. But saying that, the only time we’ve run him on better ground was at Newbury in a novice hurdle, where he finished second to Dashel Drasher, so that form isn’t looking too bad.”

Pipe is hoping the application of headgear might coax some improvement out of Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle outsider Main Fact.

Main Fact looks to have his work cut out in the Stayers' Hurdle
Main Fact looks to have his work cut out in the Stayers’ Hurdle (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “We’ll probably take our chance.

“For me, he disappointed (in the Long Walk) at Ascot, but bounced back with a good run to finish fourth at Haydock.

“Obviously he’s a big price and an outsider, but we will be putting some type of headgear on him in the Stayers’ Hurdle, to help horse and jockey in the early stages.

“He deserves to take his chance. Softer ground would be better for him. Why not have a go?”

Pipe has yet to decide between the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett for Make Me A Believer, while Leoncavallo is viewed as an “interesting” contender for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, a race son David would love to finally win.

He said: “The harder I try to win it, the less likely it seems to be that I’m going to!

“Every year there seems to be more entries in the Martin Pipe than any other other race at Cheltenham.

“We have a few entries for it. Leoncavallo is an interesting horse – he had a good season on the Flat last year.

“He’s in the Martin Pipe and the County Hurdle. He’s rated high enough on 142 and he’s nine years old – but he’s in very good form, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to me if he ran a big race in whichever one he goes for.”

Monday Musings: Tritonic to be the Spring King?

I was speaking to Micky Hammond a couple of weeks ago and he declared: “Winter has finished!”. I thought maybe he was rather precipitous as there were still great drifts of snow around much of the North of England and points further on, but he must have had divine inspiration from somewhere, writes Tony Stafford.

Often the Kempton Saturday meeting in late February has offered better ground than anywhere else for ages and as such provided a nice lead-in for Cheltenham Festival runners. February 27 2021 proved no exception.

Through this most depressing of winters, denied visits to the racecourse and resigned to watching horses slogging through the mud day after day on television, Kempton’s jumps track always provides the kindest of surfaces. No wonder Nicky Henderson opposed plans for its closure so vigorously.

On Saturday the three-mile handicap chase, which has had many identities, but was staged under the Close Brothers banner this year, was run in five minutes 51 seconds, one second FASTER than standard time.

Clondaw Castle was the meritorious winner. Trained by Tom George and ridden by Jonathan Burke, he led home a field of 17. Runner-up Erick Le Rouge, a 33-1 shot, had been successful on similarly fast ground at the corresponding meeting two years ago in a handicap hurdle while on that same card, Southfield Spirit, a faller when favourite for the Close Brothers, won the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle for Paul Nicholls.

Micky must have been slightly irritated at the accuracy of his prediction as he chose the same weekend for the return to hurdling of stable star Cornerstone Lad in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell yesterday. The ground had dried out appreciably there too and Cornerstone Lad, a proper mud-lark, was pulled up.

I always loved the late February meeting at Kempton which used to be a two-day affair on the Friday and Saturday. I know my memory plays tricks these days but I definitely remember one year (not sure which one) when at least half a dozen of the Kempton winners (and possibly a couple more) went on to success at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Adonis Hurdle will always be a favourite and its annual arrival unfailingly reminds me of the 2007 renewal which led to a 14-year connection with Raymond Tooth. Sadly Raymond’s association with racing has for now been curtailed but I will always be grateful to Punjabi and to Derek Hatter and Brod Munro-Wilson whose input that day hastened the union.

Few winners of the race, which in 2007 and 2008 provided Nicky Henderson with the 2009 and 2010 (Binocular) Champion Hurdle winners, were more impressive than Saturday’s ten-length Adonis victor Tritonic, a fifth Adonis score for Alan King, equalling Henderson’s tally.

Tritonic, a 99-rated Flat racer, had been more workmanlike than spectacular in the Ascot mud five weeks earlier when a strong-finishing one-length victor from the Gary Moore-trained Casa Loupi. That horse, a far inferior performer on the level but still a tough campaigner, was again the main rival on Saturday.

Coming to the last flight it appeared that there would probably be only a slightly wider margin between them but once over the obstacle, Tritonic took off and sprinted away up the run-in in the manner of a Goshen in an easing-down ten-length exhibition.

Cheltenham has a habit of fooling us with its ground and many times I’ve been in a less than successful going prediction business, certainly not in the Hammond league anyway. At various Cheltenham preview nights I’ve suggested it will be impossible for it to be anything but soft and it often wasn’t. I don’t think it matters for Tritonic, who is down to 7-2 for the juvenile championship.

I feel I have to change my Triumph allegiance, with French Aseel showing no sign of a second run having transferred into the Willie Mullins team. Gordon Elliott still has a strong grip on the race with 2-1 shot Zanahiyr and third-best Quilixios (6-1) but he is making all the wrong headlines after the picture of him talking on the phone while sitting on a dead horse on his gallop started doing the rounds. Both the Irish authorities and the BHA are understandably on the Elliott case.

In these more sensitive times in terms of animal welfare it is little wonder that social media has been so much on this matter. I’ve been told that the belated release of the grotesque image many months after it was captured last summer is because of the ire of a scorned former paramour of the trainer! Whatever the truth of that, it’s a great story. As Mr Bolger instructed when I first contacted him back in the 1980’s: “No names!”

In those days in Ireland you never knew who was listening in. Nowadays there’s always someone taking a picture and it has an ever-ready target audience. No doubt in no time at all there will be a million “likes” of which 999,000 of them will be utter “dislikes”.

Anyway, I digress. Tritonic is a reminder of Alan King’s talent as a jumps trainer which to some extent has been slightly eroded in the public understanding because of his equal facility on the Flat. Considering he doesn’t have easy access to the top pedigrees but instead needs to develop his own talent, that success is even more meritorious.

Tritonic was a case in point. Bred by Kirsten Rausing, he was originally sold as a foal at Tatts December sale for 14,000gns to Tony O’Callaghan’s Tally Ho Stud. Eighteen months later at the lesser of the two Tatts Breeze-ups, with the benefit of the Tally Ho expertise, he realised almost a 300% increase at 55k.

He might not have seemed the obvious “breezer” in pedigree terms. He was by the German Derby winner – by 11 lengths! – Sea The Moon who won four of five career starts with his only defeat coming as a 2-1 on shot in his last run in the Grosser Preis von Baden. The four-year-old winner there, Ivanhowe, was later a multiple Group 1 winner in Australia.

King didn’t waste any time with his May purchase. Tritonic had his first start in July as an unconsidered 50-1 outsider for a Haydock 7f novice race and, bar taking a false step in the closing stages, could have been even nearer than fourth place, less than a length behind the winner.

He built on that with wins at Ffos Las in August and Newbury in September and was only a 6-1 chance when fifth to Max Vega in the Group 3 Zetland Stakes over 10 furlongs at Newmarket in October. Placed in four of his five attempts – including first time out at Royal Ascot – in good-class handicaps as a three-year-old, he had the benefit of experience without being over-raced. So when the trainer turned Tritonic to hurdling he already looked the finished article.

With two Triumph Hurdle winners, Penzance and Katchit - who as a five-year-old followed up in the Champion Hurdle - to his credit, King certainly knows what’s needed and, after welcoming his winner on Saturday, there was only one race on his mind.

Another of the Kempton winners that interests me is Cape Gentleman who travelled over from Ireland to win the Dovecote Hurdle in determined style after a tussle with the Dan Skelton-trained Calico, a decent horse in Germany before making an easy winning UK debut at Ludlow.

Cape Gentleman started out in the Nicolas Clement stable after being sourced as a yearling at Arqana’s Deauville sale by the trainer and his sales associate Tina Rau for €20k. After three runs and one win he was back at the company’s Saint-Cloud venue where Emmet Mullins bought him for €80k on behalf of owner Margaret O’Rourke.

It’s uncanny that Tritonic and Cape Gentleman had such similar increases in value between sales and are rated 1lb apart on the Flat: second time out for Mullins in the Irish Cesarewitch at The Curragh last September Cape Gentleman showed tremendous stamina and determination to win by a couple of lengths in a field of 20 after which his mark was increased from 85 to 100.

First time over hurdles he won well at Punchestown but then, in Grade 1 company over two and three-quarter miles at Leopardstown’s Dublin Festival three weeks ago, he was pulled up. That he could recover from those exertions and put in such a good performance within such a short time and back at two miles is testimony both to the horse’s constitution and his trainer’s skill.

Cape Gentleman has two Cheltenham engagements and is a 25-1 chance for both. With the run guarantee in many places, I reckon there will be worse each-way shots at considerably shorter odds on the day. Just two weeks to go.

I’d actually been asked to go to a friend’s house to do an on-the-day hosting of one of the days at the Festival for some of his pals who play for a Premier League team and love their racing. That was great at any rate until spoil-sport Mrs S pointed out that it was still illegal – and no doubt one of the lads would live stream the event, ensuring big fines all round. I had regretfully to decline.

- TS

Nicholls targets Aintree for Monmiral

Leading juvenile hurdler Monmiral is already earmarked for Aintree in the spring, and will not even be entered in the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Paul Nicholls’ French import, who numbers Sir Alex Ferguson among his owners with Ged Mason and John and Lisa Hales, scored with ease on his British debut at Exeter.

He was then upped in class for the Grade Two Summit Juvenile Hurdle at Doncaster, where he was an even more impressive winner.

However, Nicholls views him as an embryonic chaser of the future – and Aintree’s Doom Bar Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle is by far this season’s preferred target.

“Monmiral goes to Haydock for the Victor Ludorum next, then on to Aintree,” said the champion trainer.

“He won’t even have an entry in the Triumph Hurdle.

“John Hales and the other guys are not interested in the Triumph Hurdle – they are interested in chasing.

“All those good horses I’ve had like Frodon and Clan Des Obeaux have finished down the field in the Triumph Hurdle – but they weren’t Triumph horses, and he is the same.”

Nicholls is confident Liverpool will suit Monmiral much better.

“The race at Aintree is worth a lot, and it will be a nice track for him,” he added.

“If you are going to be serious about chasing in the future, you have to mind him a bit. He wasn’t purchased for a Triumph Hurdle.”

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.

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.”