Messire Des Obeaux (right) battled to win the Winter Novices’ Hurdle
PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS
By David Baxter 2:33PM 2 DEC 2016
Report: Sandown, Friday
Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle (Registered as the Winter Novices’ Hurdle) (Grade 2) 2m3f173y, 4yo+
ALAN KING won this race for the second successive season, as Messire Des Obeaux followed up Label Des Obeaux’s victory from 12 months ago.
Although there were only seven runners, it still produced a thrilling finish, with three runners all holding a chance at the last.
Last season’s Champion Bumper winner Ballyandy ran another solid race, but the 11-10 favourite remains a maiden over hurdles after three attempts.
Although the race has a rich history of producing quality winners, including Fingal Bay and Taquin Du Seuil, it is tricky to get a handle on what Messire Des Obeaux achieved.
The only four-year-old in the field, Messire Des Obeaux had won a handicap at Bangor by ten lengths last time out, and was made a 25-1 shot for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival by Betfair and Paddy Power after this gallant success.
How the race was won
Aintree My Dream took the field along, but once he weakened out of contention before the second-last it looked like Ballyandy or Cultivator were the most likely winners.
Cultivator and Ballyandy battled on the run to the last, but Daryl Jacob had got Messire Des Obeaux into top gear, and, having jumped the final flight a length down, he stayed on well down the outside to win by half a length.
Winning trainer King said: “Between the last two I thought he had run very well and would be a good third, but he’s knuckled down well. That’s the first time he’s been asked a question like that and he’s responded.
“Giving 7lb to Nigel’s horse [Ballyandy] is a good performance. We always thought he was very good, but this was a cracking Winter Hurdle with real depth. He’s a horse that is going to get better as he is big and rangy.”
King suggested Newbury’s Challow Hurdle could be a target, but he has taken winners of this race there before and they have been beaten.