Notebook Update: Tick for Taq
Notebook followers were rewarded when Taquin Du Seuil won the BetVictor Gold Cup, Ian Ogg rounds up the latest additions.
Taquin Du Seuil (left) quickens past Aso at Cheltenham
The Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow worked out well last season and those who took note of this year's renewal will be more than happy with the way events have worked out.
The two mile three contest was won by Ballyoptic who fell when stepped up in grade for the West Yorkshire Hurdle, indeed three of the first four home failed to complete next time, but two of the more experienced runners that finished in midfield both won their next starts.
Caid Du Berlais was having his first start since April 2015 when staying on into eighth and he showed the benefit of the outing when winning at 5/1 at Aintree, again over hurdles.
Supported into 8/1 from around 12s, Jonjo O'Neill's nine-year-old reeled in long-term leader Village Vic to win by a neck and earn a 5lb rise which has left him on a chase mark of 161.
He could return to Cheltenham for a similar contest next month but given how well he run over the smaller obstacles at Chepstow, it will be interesting to see if connections will attempt to exploit a 13lb lower mark in that sphere at some stage this season.
The other Notebook runner to appear at Cheltenham was Ballymountain Boy (25/1) who cut little ice in the bumper on Sunday. The market tells you everything you need to know about expectations and he seemed ill at ease on the relatively testing ground.
However, it's worth giving him another chance once faced with a more realistic test as the form of his Rules debut at Newton Abbot is working out quite nicely. The third home won his bumper by 10 lengths next time while the fourth and sixth made winning debuts over hurdles when next seen and the race should continue to throw up winners.
A 44 length defeat at odds of 16/1 on your hurdling debut doesn't look too great on the face of it but Bally Gilbert shaped far better than those bare facts suggest in a strong renewal of the Neptune Investment Management Hyde Novices' Hurdle.
The five-year-old is your archetypal embryonic chaser to look at but he should be able to win races over hurdles before then. He was firmly in touch coming down the hill only to struggle when the pace quickened but there was no disgrace in that given the depth in the race and he can leave this hurdling debut behind in calmer waters whether that be in an average maiden or in handicap company further down the line.
In the same contest, there was also plenty to like about the run of Baden with trainer Nicky Henderson warning that the run would be needed. That was very much the way that the talented grey shaped and there's half a chance that he might go off at a decent price next time given he was beaten 23 lengths and that he's likely to be lining up in decent company.
Sticking with the 'b's and Ballyarthur is added despite failing to justify favouritism in the conditional jockeys' handicap hurdle. As Ben Linfoot pointed out in his Cheltenham Open Meeting Eyecatchers, last year's renewal of the race threw up a good horse and it will be disappointing if this contest doesn't too.
All of the first four should be worth following with better ground a proviso for third home Call To Order as he never seemed entirely happy but that wasn't the case with Nigel Twiston-Davies' runner who travelled strongly throughout. I really liked the way he went about his work and he should seen be able to make amends.
It was a mixed meeting for Philip Hobbs who saw Defi Du Seuil impress in the Triumph Hurdle Trial and Village Vic collared close home in the feature handicap but Rock The Kasbah ran rather a strange race in the novice chase with Richard Johnson looking down and appearing to be on the verge of pulling his mount up, the six-year-old then steamed up the hill to snatch third.
For Good Measure ran well in the intermediate hurdle on Saturday, shaping as though he was crying out for a return to three miles and there are good prizes to be won with him but I don't think he'll be missed in the market so I'll add Fingal Bay to the Notebook instead.
The old boy hasn't won since the Pertemps Final of 2014 and has had a mixed time of things over fences but he travelled well enough in the Regulatory Finance Solutions Handicap Hurdle to suggest all of his ability remains intact.
He now has the option of veteran chases which could afford him a better opportunity than in the past and it would be no surprise to see him mix and match hurdling and chasing this season and he can win again.
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