At this time of year we are seeing the jumps action ramping up a notch on an almost weekly basis and as always on a Monday we are taking a look back at the past seven days of sport. We have seen some very nice horses on both sides of the Irish Sea strut their stuff and they all feature here for punters to write into their notebooks.
King Makes A Diamond Chasing Debut
There was a terrific little card at Galway last Tuesday with the chasing debut of a Cheltenham Festival winner the main event at Ballybrit. The Gordon Elliot trained Diamond King was good enough to win the Coral Cup last term but as expected he looked a natural over the bigger obstacles as he made his chasing debut.
The 8YO won the 2m2f Galway Beginners Chase like a very good horse indeed with a near flawless round of jumping and it would be a major surprise if he wasn't among the top level in the division this winter. The record of 9YO horses isn't great but there is every chance Diamond King could buck that trend and as such is a best price of 12/1 with bet365 to win the JLT Novices Chase in March.
It was not a one horse show on the Galway card with the Noel Meade trained Le Martalin taking the Maiden Hurdle in the style of a good horse. The Gigginstown owned animal was making his debut over hurdles and he couldn't have impressed more as he travelled like a very good horse indeed and the future looks bright for him.
In the long term, Le Martalin looks like a chaser to follow but for the time being he can do damage over hurdles and an early 20/1 quote from bet365 for the 2017 Supreme Novices Hurdle looks about fair at this stage.
Monksland was another winner at Galway last week and he remains a top level and consistent type for Noel Meade. Not out of the first three in any of his last six starts now, Monksland won the Ryans Cleaning Chase by a head from Marinero despite giving weight away. He will need to jump better to mix it at Grade 1 level but there is no doubting his class and he will be winning plenty of prize money this winter.
Its'Afreebee Impresses At Fakenham
Meanwhile, on this side of the Irish Sea we have also seen some nice horses this past week including Its'Afreebee who made his chasing debut for Dan Skelton at Fakenham on Friday. Last seen when 3rd in the Neptune, the 6YO jumped well on his debut and had loads left in the tank as he won 2m5f contest and he looks a fair animal at this level.
Tougher tasks lie ahead for Its'Afreebee but this was a pleasing start and few would be surprised to see this horse turn up in the JLT Novices Chase next March.
Garde The Star On Welsh Champion Hurdle Day
This weekend saw the Welsh Champion Hurdle card take place and it was a big success in its new slot having been moved from its old February position. The ground was decent enough for this time of year we saw some excellent horses take their chance at the Welsh venue.
The Welsh Champion Hurdle was of course the feature race and we saw a top class winner in the form of Garde La Victoire who showed his quality on his return to hurdles.
The Philip Hobbs trained horse defied top weight to hold off the fancied Welsh Shadow and that bodes well for him as he returns to fences, with the Haldon Gold Cup a possible target for him at Exeter.
Garde La Victoire showed all his battling qualities as he claimed the Welsh Champion Hurdle on Saturday;
Elsewhere on the Ffos Las card we saw a nice British debut from Defi Du Seuil who could potentially be a good addition to the juvenile ranks. The JP McManus owned horse travelled like a good thing before pulling clear of the game Ochos Rios and bet365 installed him as a 25/1 shot for the Triumph Hurdle in the hours after the contest.