Weekend Review: Grand Annual pointers at Musselburgh
Denis O'Regan: Scored aboard Stormy Weather
"de Boitron is likely to head straight to the Grand Annual from a lower BHA rating than when fourth last season..."
Timeform look back at a weekend featuring National Hunt racing from Musselburgh on Saturday, as well as mixed action on the all-weather, and some notable international results...
The Donald McCain-trained Tara Royal landed the spoils in the Scottish Champion Chase, beating Woody Waller and de Boitron into second and third respectively. Tara Royal found everything clicking into place for him, matching his highest ever Timeform chase rating of 136 after jumping and travelling with enthusiasm (jumping had previously looked an issue) throughout.
The race is likely to prove one of the best two-mile handicaps run in the north this season, potentially providing a very good guide to the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival next month. The winner was authoritative in his victory but it is the third, de Boitron, who really appeals for the aforementioned race.
The eight-year-old is indicative of his yard in that he tends to come good in the spring, and he is likely to head straight to the Grand Annual from a lower BHA rating than when fourth last season. Ferdy Murphy's record in Cheltenham handicaps is an excellent one, and Saturday's race may well have provided the perfect springboard to the Festival.
Stormy Weather was given a masterful ride to win the Scottish County Hurdle, gently coaxed into contention by Denis O'Regan before gradually getting the upper hand after the final flight. The Brian Ellison-trained gelding has shown signs of temperament in the past, but he may well be a handicapper to stick with now that he has recorded two successes on the bounce.
Bold Sir Brian's 22-length novice chase victory was undeniably impressive, almost certainly improving to some degree, but the race is difficult to assess accurately with the departure of Chester Lad at the twelfth fence. However, the winner overcame being hampered by that rival, looking a smart chaser in the making, and one that would be more than worth a second look if lining up in the Jewson, for which he is currently available to back at [42.0].
Moving on to Lingfield's polytrack, where Haadeeth and Nubar Boy took a division of the Sprint Series qualifier each. The former had the run of the race on his first start for David Evans and his overall record is far from convincing, but Nubar Boy looked better than ever, helped by the strong pace, and is likely to continue to give a good account.
Taajub, having caught the eye on numerous occasions in the past couple of months, confirmed previous impressions to beat Sulis Minerva by half a length in the five-furlong handicap. He will remain well treated having been runner-up in both the Gimcrack and Cornwallis as a juvenile, but seemingly needs everything to drop right in order to give his best.
At Caulfield, Australia, outstanding mare Black Caviar extended her unbeaten run to 18 in the CF Orr Stakes, where she stepped up to seven furlongs for the first time. She is likely to be seen again in the near future, possibly as soon as next weekend, before potentially heading to the Dubai Carnival and then on to a tilt at Royal Ascot.
Southwell staged a "Jumpers' Bumpers" card on Sunday, where Abergavenny showed himself to be in good heart back from a short break when recording an eight-length victory. He is likely to be of interest in high-end handicaps in the future (he could yet run in Friday's rescheduled Betfair Hurdle), and may be worth a step up in trip when returned to timber.
There was fascinating racing in Ireland over the weekend, from Naas on Saturday and Leopardstown on Sunday, with the likes of Last Instalment, Quel Esprit and Bog Warrior all in winning form.
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