It has been a mixed week for fans of jumps racing with some excellent racing tempered by the news that we lost Vautour on Sunday. The three time Cheltenham Festival winner picked up an injury at home which led to him being put down and condolences certainly go to all involved with the horse.
On a slightly more positive note we have once again seen plenty of top class horses over the past seven days although with the rain continuing to stay away, we continue to be blighted by small fields in the UK.
This week we discuss all of the eye catchers with Henry De Bromhead and Paul Nicholls the main protagonists on a busy Saturday.
HDB Picks Up Big Down Royal Double
The feature jumps card of the weekend came at Down Royal on Friday and Saturday and it didn't disappoint with some excellent displays to take note of with the future in mind.
Henry De Bromhead is a trainer on fire at the moment when it comes to chasers and that continues on Saturday as he picked up two big race wins. Valseur Lido and Sub Lieutenant won the JNWine Champion Chase and the Titanic Belfast Chase respectively and both impressed.
Valseur Lido, having his first start for De Bromhead, was hardly off the bridle as he won the Grade 1 Down Royal Champion Chase over 3m ahead of Silviniaco Conti and the future now looks bright for him. The 7YO is now as short as 8/1, from 20s, for the King George Chase with bet365 whilst his price for the Gold Cup is now 12/1, from 25, with the same firm and both prices make appeal.
As for Sub Lieutenant, he has looked like a different horse since arriving at the De Bromhead yard and he made it 2-2 this season with the win on Saturday. He jumped well before pulling clear of Outlander, who is no mug himself, and quotes of 20/1, from 33s, for the Ryanair Chase with bet 365 look very juicy indeed.
Elsewhere at down Royal we saw a major shock on Friday as red hot juvenile Apple's Jade was beaten on seasonal debut by Rashaan in the WKD Hurdle and although she deserves another chance, her Champion Hurdle price is now as big as 16/1, from 8/1, with one or two reports suggesting she will be stepped up in trip.
Gordon Elliott was disappointed with Apple's Jade but he did saddle A Toi Phil to success at down Royal on Friday afternoon on his chase debut. It was a nice start for the Gigginstown owned horse, who was a Grade 2 winner over hurdles, and he should a solid addition to the novice chase ranks this term.
Elliott also gave Monbeg Notorious his debut over hurdles at Down Royal and he is another exciting future Chaser for Gigginstown to follow. There is no doubt he is going to be a chaser but he won his maiden hurdle nicely and he could take aim at something like the Albert Bartlett (33/1 with Paddy Power) in the spring if he continues to progress.
Paul Nicholls Treble At Wincanton
There has been next to no rain in the UK of late and that showed at Wincanton on Saturday with a host of non runners and small fields the order of the day.
Despite that, there was still some good racing with Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls continuing his fine form with a treble. The highlight of which came in the Rising Stars Novices Chase as Frodon claimed yet another win this season and in impressive fashion. He was getting loads of weight from the field as a 4YO but once again his jumping was excellent and he looked to have the race won when Shantou Village at the last.
Frodon could now look to make history by becoming the first 4YO to win the Bet Victor Gold Cup and his price for that race is now a best 13/2 with Sky Bet, from 8/1, as a result of this latest success.
Nicholls was unable to claim the Elite Hurdle though with Alan King and Sceau Royal claiming the honours in the Grade 2 contest at Wincanton. The 4YO followed up his recent win at Cheltenham with another strong display and he has been very impressive so far this autumn.
King nominated the Fighting Fifth Hurdle as his next race and although he would need much more to feature in a Champion Hurdle, he is an each way price of 20/1, from 25s, with Ladbrokes for the first day feature at the Cheltenham Festival.
Other Eye Catchers This Week.....
There was plenty of action away from Wincanton and Down Royal as well this past week and a number of horses have gone into the notebook.
Recent Chepstow winner Geordie Des Champs followed up that success with another one at Aintree on Saturday for Rebecca Curtis over 2m4f. It was a nice success for the JP McManus owned horse under a penalty and although he didn't beat too much, he is clearly on an upward curve with a race like the Neptune (50/1) potentially on the horizon in March.
Elsewhere on the Aintree card we saw Un Temps Pour Tout run a lovely prep for the Hennessy Gold Cup with a win in the BTRC Hurdle over 2m4f. It was an excellent seasonal debut for the David Pipe horse and he was trimmed for the Newbury feature into 8/1, from 10/1, by Paddy Power as a result of this pipe opener.
We should also mention Alpha Des Obeaux, who won the 2m4f novice chase at Cork on Sunday to claim his 2nd win over the campaign over fences. He has improved since flopping on debut and although his main rival fell on Sunday, he does have to be taken seriously given his World Hurdle form and as a result of this latest success, he was trimmed a a couple points into 6/1 by Paddy Power in the ante post RSA Chase market.