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The Irish Road To Cheltenham: Aupcharlie still a contender

Solwhit (left) got back to winning ways on Saturday

"(Aupcharlie) again impressed with the way he jumped and travelled, promising to be at least as effective back at shorter trips, and remains a serious contender for the Jewson at Cheltenham."

Timeform's Irish Jumps Handicapper Martin Rigg looks back on Saturday's card at Naas.

Naas was the sole surviving turf meeting in Britain and Ireland over the weekend and the highlight of a seven-race card was the rematch between Aupcharlie and Tofino Bay in the Grade 2 Woodlands Park 100 Club Novice Chase over three miles. Aupcharlie had Tofino Bay almost a distance behind when touched off by Back In Focus in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown over Christmas but the form was reversed on this occasion, with the latter allowed to dictate then finding more after Aupcharlie had loomed upsides travelling best. However, the runner-up again impressed with the way he jumped and travelled, promising to be at least as effective back at shorter trips, and remains a serious contender for the Jewson at Cheltenham.

There were no such woes for odds-on backers in the preceding Limestone Lad Hurdle, a Grade 3 event over nineteen furlongs, with six-time Grade 1 winner Solwhit seeing off So Young by an easy four lengths, travelling strongly and leading on the bridle before the last. It was only last month that Solwhit made his return from an absence of almost two years and he clearly retains all of his enthusiasm. Whether he's quite the force of old remains to be seen, but he is in the World Hurdle and there is nothing in his past record at up to two and a half miles to suggest he'll fail for lack of stamina upped to three miles, so he has to enter calculations for a race which stage looks short on realistic candidates at this stage. 

Champion Jockey Davy Russell completed a clean sweep of the first four races when Un Atout maintained his unbeaten record in bloodless fashion in the novice hurdle over two miles, jumping soundly in the main and travelling strongly before putting nineteen lengths between himself and maiden winner Rory O'Moore. Un Atout has created a big impression in a short amount of time, not needing to come off the bridle for either success over hurdles, and he'll probably be the one to beat if he lines up for the Deloitte Novice Hurdle next, with Supreme Novices' favourite Jezki reportedly an unlikely runner.    


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21 January 2013

Irish Racing

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