Grania O’Malley (Timeform rating c119) – Uttoxeter, Sunday 6 October
The form of Grania O’Malley’s comfortable success at Ffos Las on her penultimate outing could hardly have worked out better – the runner-up has since recorded a hat-trick at Stratford – and she certainly went like a horse who is still ahead of her mark when second on her return from four months off at Uttoxeter on Sunday.
Held up towards the rear of the field in the early stages, Grania O’Malley began to make smooth headway out wide from halfway and was produced to lead with what looked a well-timed challenge at the last, trading as low as 1.05 in-running on Betfair. However, she was unable to sustain her effort on the run-in, her absence possibly telling as she was passed by the course-specialist Truckers Highway, who had come down a fair way in the weights. That still represented a most encouraging return to action for Grania O’Malley, and, with a nine-length gap back to the third, there is every chance she can remain competitive from her reassessed mark, especially if tightening up with this outing under her belt. Evan Williams
Django Django (Timeform rating c129p) – Uttoxeter, Sunday 6 October
Speaking in the 2019/20 edition of Horses To Follow, Jonjo O’Neill said he was hopeful of seeing ‘a proper horse’ when Django Django went over fences this season, and he is likely to have been highly encouraged by what he saw at Uttoxeter on Sunday, with the six-year-old immediately running to a useful level to finish third on his chase debut in an interesting beginners’ event.
Making his first appearance since winning a valuable handicap hurdle over 3m at Haydock in April, Django Django was dropped back to 2½m for his return and ultimately shaped very well under the circumstances, the shorter trip and steady early gallop combining to provide a relative test of speed that simply didn’t play to his strengths. The way he rallied at the finish was eye-catching to say the least, and, beaten only two and a half lengths at the line, he looks a banker for a similar event when stepping back up to 3m. Looking further ahead, it would be no surprise if he proved capable of contesting some of the better staying handicaps in the second half of the season, with further improvement on the cards when the emphasis is on stamina. Jonjo O’Neill
Neverbeen To Paris (Timeform rating h127) – Stratford, Monday 7 October
Neverbeen To Paris only made his hurdling debut in February, but it didn’t take him long to translate his fairly useful Flat form to the winter game, going on to win two of his five subsequent starts for David Arbuthnot. He may not have finished improving just yet, either, on the evidence of his second at Stratford on Monday, when producing a career best on his first start since joining Harry Whittington.
Settling much better than has often been the case, Neverbeen To Paris raced in mid-field during the first part of the contest and began to take closer order after jumping two out, at which point the eventual winner went on and crucially gained first run. Briefly outpaced on the home turn, Neverbeen To Paris could never make up the deficit, but he stayed on strongly in his own right and was ultimately never nearer than the three quarters of a length he was beaten at the line. He certainly showed enough to suggest there are races to be won for his new yard, and, likely to stay 3m on this evidence, Whittington can be relied upon to find a suitable opening in the weeks ahead. Harry Whittington