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Neon Wolf Shows The Hunger As Cold Snap Grips The UK

Monday 23rd January 2017

The cold weather has gripped the UK over the past few days and that has seen racing curtailed due to frost, but there has still be some impressive performances to scribble down into the trusty notebook.

The big card at Ascot did fall victim to the weather but racing went ahead at Haydock on Saturday, whilst all eyes were on Leopardstown on Sunday as they hosted a terrific fixture.

Our followers on twitter had their say on the most impressive performance of the weekend;

Haydock In The Spotlight

With Ascot abandoned, Haydock took the full attention from the ITV Racing cameras and it didn't disappoint with plenty of impressive displays.

A card with four Grade 2 races to enjoy, it started in fine fashion as Waiting Patiently ground down Politologue to win the Altcar Novices Chase over 2m4f. The grey Paul Nicholls trained horse bowled along in front and jumped well once again, but he didn't find too much off the bridle which left the door open to the Malcolm Jefferson trained winner.

The front two pulled well clear of a good horse in 3rd so the form does look decent, and both have options ahead of him this spring.

Waiting Patiently will need some cut in the ground to go to Cheltenham but if he does, there would be worse 10/1 shots for the JLT than him, whilst Politologue (20/1) could go to the same race although he looks a 3m chaser of the future.

The very next race on the Haydock card was the Grade 2 Supreme trial and after a big gamble, punters were rewarded as Neon Wolf bounded clear to mark himself out as a good one for Harry Fry.

A 3m chaser of the future, it was hard not to be impressed by the way Neon Wolf did this as he jumped with style before pulling nine lengths clear of a decent yardstick in the form of Elgin. It was a very taking display from an unbeaten horse and in a muddied market, his new price of 14/1 (from 40s) with Bet Victor for the Supreme Novices Hurdle does see him enter the picture as a genuine threat for the Festival opener.

From a future star to an established star...

Moments after Neon Wolf had announced himself on the scene we saw an old favourite return as The New One won the Champion Hurdle Trial for a 3rd time.

Giving weight away to the majority of the field, the 9YO was made to work very hard but he showed all of his bravery to get up and claim the win and at Grade 2 level. It remains hard to see him being a major factor at the Cheltenham Festival but he will add depth to which ever race he runs in, whether that be the Champion Hurdle (20/1 from 25/1) or the Stayers' Hurdle (16/1 from 20/1).

That was a big win for Nigel Twiston-Davies and there was more success for the trainer on the Haydock card as Bristol De Mai produced a lovely round of jumping to win the Peter Marsh Chase.

A Grade 1 winning novice chaser, Bristol De Mai loved the Haydock conditions and produced a splendid round of jumping from the front before pulling well clear of a good field on just his second start at 3m.

Doubts about his ability to act round Cheltenham do linger but he clearly enjoyed the stamina test and he more than deserves to take his chance in the Gold Cup, for which he has been slashed into 16/1, from 66/1. for by Bet365.

One other horse we must mention from Saturday is Jezki who returned from a near two year absence to win the 2m Hurdle at Navan. The former Champion Hurdler was getting weight from his main opponents but even taking that into account, he jumped superbly before comfortably beating Renneti and Tombstone, who set a good benchmark.

JP McManus already has a strong hand in the Stayer's Hurdle and Jezki could be the best of them at 6/1, from 12/1, with Bet365.

Yorkhill The Star At Leopardstown

The action moved across the Irish Sea on Sunday as Leopardstown hosted a terrific card.

The star of the show was undoubtedly Yorkhill who maintained his unbeaten record over fences to win the 2m3f novice chase and remain on course for the JLT Novices Chase. He did get the win but it wasn't a particularly impressive performance as he jumped to his left throughout, before beating the average Jett by under two lengths.

There is surely more to come but it was still a surprise to see the bookmakers cutting him in the wake of this performance, with his JLT Novices Chase price into 6/5f, from 7/4f, with Paddy Power.

The big betting race of the day at Leopardstown was the Coral.ie Handicap Chase and we saw favourite backers in clover as A Toi Phil made the most of what appeared to be a lenient mark. Given a brilliant ride by young Jack Kennedy, the 7YO finished like a train to nab Stellar Notion on the line and give Gordon Elliott another big pot.

A Toi Phil looks just below Grade 1 level but he is a rock solid chaser and will be a threat in whatever race he turns up in at the big spring festivals.

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