by The Final Flight Team

3/8/2016 12:15:00 PM

Monday 19th - Sunday 25th October 2015


John Ferguson’s gelding made it into ‘The Final Flight Jumps Guide as a handicap hurdler following two promising runs at Cheltenham (Supreme Novices’ Hurdle) and Aintree (Top Novices’ Hurdle) in the spring. However, Ferguson decided to go down the chasing route with this son of Street Cry and he made a satisfactory debut on Friday at Cheltenham, finishing 3rd in the 2m Novices’ Chase. Although he doesn’t strike me as a chaser, he certainly has plenty of ability and that alone will win him races over the larger obstacles. I expect him to improve in a more strongly run race and also with this initial experience under his belt. Although his next target is certain to be over fences, he remains of interest if he is re-routed back to timber, with 2m handicap hurdles certain to suit.     

Drumlee Sunset – TOP PROSPECT

Exeter bumper winner Drumlee Sunset made his hurdles debut in the Maiden Hurdle on the same card and showed plenty of promise, finishing a 2 ¼ length second behind the impressive Dan Skelton-trained winner, Mister Miyagi. Drumlee Sunset took up the running three out and although still in contention at the last, he failed to match the winner’s turn of foot on the climb to the line. I expect Phillip Hobbs’ gelding to come on for the run and he should have no problem in opening his account over hurdles in the near future. He reminds me of another Roger Brookhouse-owned horse, Champagne West, one who showed plenty of improvement when stepped up in trip so it will be interesting if his handler opts for a slightly longer trip next time out.    

Clondaw Banker – HANDICAPPER

This horse was the well-backed favourite for the closing handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday which was unsurprising given some of the smart form that he showed in novice-company last term. He travelled and jumped well throughout the contest and was still in with a chance when jumping two out before his effort rather petered out, eventually finishing 6th. Although he is beginning to become frustrating for punters (beaten favourite 4 times), it is possible that he needed this run and he remains a horse with plenty of potential as a handicap hurdler. I think that he will prove most effective when racing on a flatter track and therefore races at Kempton or Haydock would be of interest. As detailed in ‘The Final Flight Jumps Guide’, I believe that he has the scope to jump a fence and his mark of 121 could prove extremely lenient if taking to the larger obstacles. If switching to that code, a novice handicap chase would be a good starting point but regardless of his short-term target, he is certainly not one to give up on just yet.   


A horse with some smart point-to-point form before joining Tom George’s stable, most notably when finishing third behind Punchestown bumper winner Petit Mouchoir on debut. He made his rules debut in the concluding bumper at Cheltenham on Saturday, finishing a respectable 5th behind some useful horses. He showed signs of inexperience throughout the race, racing enthusiastically before being outpaced with around two furlongs still to run. He showed an excellent attitude, keeping on well inside the final furlong and as predicted he looks a really promising long-term prospect. It will be interesting to see whether connections decide to send him novice hurdling where staying races are almost certain to prove his forte but given his debut effort, he has the potential to win a bumper before switching to timber.


During the summer there were a few horses that I simply could not wait to see jump a hurdle and Disko was certainly one of them. He first caught my eye with his impressive win on debut at Punchestown before taking a big step forward to finish second behind Bellshill in the champion bumper at the same venue. He made his hurdles debut at Galway on Sunday, attempting to make all of the running under Bryan Cooper, where he jumped fluently throughout but ultimately lacked the turn of foot to see of the attentions of Archive. Although I believe that the 2m trip was too sharp for Disko, I genuinely thought that he would prove far too good for the field that he faced and for that reason I was left slightly disappointed. However, all is not lost for this promising son of Martaline and with plenty of improvement expected when he is stepped up in trip, I retain the confidence that he can prove himself at the very highest level over hurdles.   

The week in brief

Calipto made his debut over fences on Wednesday at Fontwell and won with the minimum of fuss from 131-rated hurdler, Wadswick Court. Paul Nicholls has an excellent record with chasers and this horse looks to have a bright future over the larger obstacles. It is expected that he will easily surpass his hurdles rating of 139 but given his overall profile, it remains to be seen whether he has the ability to win races at the highest level.

Charlie Longsdon enhanced his record in bumpers when he unleased impressive point-to-point winner Monbeg Charmer at Carlisle on Thursday. He created a very good impression when winning in fine style by 8 lengths and he looks one to follow. On this evidence, he looks capable of winning a bumper under a penalty or stepping up in class for something like the Listed bumper at Cheltenham’s Paddy Power meeting. He will be a smart recruit to novices’ hurdles when the time comes and given the manner in which he has won both of his races to date, the sky is his limit.

John Ferguson has made a tremendous start to the National Hunt season and he appears to have another smart recruit in the form of Cheltenham winner Penglai Pavillion. Already a winner of two hurdle races, Penglai Pavillion was facing his toughest task to date in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle on Friday but that proved no problem as he bounded up the hill to win by an easy 4 ½ lengths. It is only a matter of time before Ferguson has his first Cheltenham Festival winner and now that he has proven that he stays the 2m5f trip and handles the undulations of Cheltenham, he can be considered a live festival contender. Ferguson won the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle with Parlour Games last season and following this impressive display, that race looks a likely target for Penglai Pavillion.

Drumlee Sunset’s conqueror Mister Miyagi really impressed me with his win in the Maiden Hurdle on the same card. He had previously showed some smart bumper form but this was a huge step forward in my opinion. He was well beaten behind a horse that I really like called Onefitzall on his second start in bumpers before winning two at Stratford, the second under a penalty. Based on his wins at Stratford and Cheltenham, he is a horse with a very good turn of foot and he proved far too quick for Drumlee Sunset after jumping the last. Dan Skelton appears to have a particularly strong team of novice hurdlers so it would be interesting to know where this horse fits in but he definitely has a bright future over timber in my opinion. It is likely that he will be stepped up in class sooner rather than later and I expect him to take it in his stride. 

Fox Appeal was making his seasonal reappearance in the 3m1f handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday and the manner in which he stayed on to finish in 3rd place was encouraging, especially as he often strips fitter for his first outing of the season. He looks a horse with plenty of scope to progress further in the staying chase division, with this only his second attempt beyond 3m over the larger obstacles and he can make his next start a winning one if his connections continue to pursue the 3m route.  

The Harry Fry-trained Air Horse One caught my eye in the preliminaries, striking me as a lovely long-term prospect. He lived up to expectations on the racecourse in the closing bumping on Saturday, finishing a close 2nd, giving away 7lb to the winner, Aurillac. He shaped with plenty of promise turning into the straight and showed an excellent attitude when Noel Fehily asked him a serious question inside the final furlong. Ultimately, the extra 7lb told on the final drive to the line but he lost little in defeat and it is understood that he will now embark on a career over hurdles. I have no doubt that he will shed his maiden tag in that sphere in no time before hopefully going onto bigger and better things for his excellent handler. 

It was another Harry Fry inmate that caught my eye at Aintree on Sunday, this time in the form of American. A winner of his sole point-to-point in November 2014, this 5-year-old gelding strikes me as a staying chaser of the future and for that reason his 3rd in the opening 2m4f Maiden Hurdle was very impressive. It was difficult to not be impressed by the manner in which American travelled into the race before being outpaced by the front pair inside the final furlong. This horse is sure to show his best form when stepped up in trip and he could be a decent recruit to the staying novice hurdle division. However, I am already excited to see him tackle fences and he ranks as an extremely promising long-term prospect. Last but certainly not least, the Warren Greatrex-trained La Bague Au Roi created a huge impression in the concluding Mares’ bumper, winning under a penalty by a very easy 7 lengths. She rates an exciting prospect for novice hurdles against her own sex and assuming that she takes well to timber, the newly introduced Mares Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival could be the ultimate target.