There were some high-profile horses making their seasonal reappearance at Down Royal on Friday, none more so than Samcro (140P), who made the perfect start to his chasing career, impressing with his jumping as he registered a 17-length success. He had reportedly undergone a wind operation and went in a first-time tongue tie, and, importantly given last season's issues, hit the line still full of running. Samcro will likely be fast tracked to graded company next, and he has the potential to go right to the very top over fences.
Gordon Elliott, who had five winners at Down Royal on Friday, also struck with Coeur Sublime (up 7 lb to 148) in the Grade 2 hurdle. Admittedly, it was a weak race of its type, with none of the quintet having won in graded company, but it was hard not to be impressed by the manner of Coeur Sublime’s victory as he tanked along and effortlessly pulled clear after two out to win by 15 lengths. He will have to improve again if he is going to mix it at the top level, but he is clearly going the right way and couldn’t be in better hands.
Gordon Elliott also unleashed yet another potential superstar at Down Royal on Saturday as Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen (128P) made a sparkling debut over hurdles. He made a very good impression as he maintained his unbeaten record after eight months off, dictating the pace and jumping fine before quickening clear from two out, having plenty in hand at the line. He’ll presumably be kept to two miles for the time being, not lacking pace, but he will have no problem staying further down the line, and is set to take high rank in the novice hurdle division.
The Charlie Hall Chase took centre stage at Wetherby on Saturday, and fitness counted for plenty in the conditions, with Ballyoptic (up 3 lb to 161), the only horse with a run under his belt, coming out on top. He provided Nigel Twiston-Davies – a trainer with few peers when it comes to peaking in the autumn – with a sixth win in the race, though he didn’t need to improve much on his first start out of handicap company since his novice season to win a below-par renewal in which plenty of his rivals made mistakes. Ballyoptic has fallen on both previous outings over the National fences but, seemingly a safer conveyance now, that race rather than a Gold Cup is a more suitable end-of-season target.
La Bague Au Roi (151+) was disappointing on her return from seven months off, but excuses can be easily found. She was surprisingly ridden with more patience than seems to suit best (her jumping seemed to suffer for one, making the worst of four mistakes at the twelfth) and also stuck to what appeared to be the worst of the ground on the inside. She will more than likely leave that run behind next time and isn’t one to give up on.
Earlier on the card, Lady Buttons (138) didn't need to improve on her best hurdles form to win the listed mares’ hurdle, but did have to better her winning performance in a weaker renewal of the race in 2018, which can only bode well for what's likely to be another productive season. She typically powered along and led on the bridle two out, drawing six lengths clear at the last, maintaining that sort of margin for most of the run-in until late on. Philip Kirby confirmed afterwards she will follow a similar path as last season, with the two mares’ events she won at Doncaster top of her agenda.
21111— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 2, 2019
What a mare - Lady Buttons has a fine record in Listed company over obstacles and proves a class apart for successive wins in the bet365 Mares' Hurdle at @WetherbyRaces 👏 @PKirbyRacing pic.twitter.com/YI02pKqkgG
The Worlds End (151 from 145+) bounced back to his best after seven months off and laid down his Stayers’ Hurdle claims with an authoritative win in the West Yorkshire Hurdle, making full use of the uncontested lead he was afforded. He was well suited by the conditions of the race – getting 6 lb from the runner-up Unowhatimeanharry – and will have to up his game to compete with Paisley Park in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury or the Long Walk at Ascot, but that is entirely possible now he is back up and running.
Diego du Charmil (158 from 150?) was a controversial winner of a listed chase at Ascot, proving he was back to his very best after a break and a wind operation, for all he nearly threw the race away. Diego du Charmil was set to fight out the finish with stablemate Capeland (up 3 lb to 149) when he tried to follow a loose horse around the last fence, bringing his rival to a virtual standstill. Diego du Charmil was just about able to jump the upright of the fence but the unfortunate Capeland was forced between the fence and the wing. A lengthy stewards’ inquiry followed and Capeland was disqualified for having taken the wrong course, while Diego du Charmil was judged to have completed and kept the race. He’s been rated as finishing clear with Capeland.
Just over an hour later the Kim Bailey-trained Vinndication (up 2 lb to 157) justified strong support to record his seventh win in nine starts under Rules. He could boast some strong novice form, and he made his opening mark look a very lenient one in a first-time tongue tie (had also undergone a breathing operation), seeing out the three-mile trip well. He jumped soundly in the main and was well in command after two out. His only iffy round of jumping so far has come at left-handed Cheltenham, so he may well be kept to right-handed tracks.
The listed intermediate chase at Carlisle is often the first port of call for one of two big hitters and Lostintranslation (160p) certainly rates an up-to-scratch winner of the race. One of the best novice chasers around last season, he shaped as if retaining all of that ability, putting up a very pleasing performance, jumping superbly in front and quickening clear on the bridle after the last. He is still unexposed, and is reportedly set to be campaigned in all the top races after this, with the Betfair Chase at Haydock up next, followed by the King George at Kempton. His style looks perfect for the King George.
"He makes me tingle" says @JoeTizzard as Lostintranslation dazzles on his return. Read about ambitious plans for the winner plus his stablemate Elegant Escape >>> https://t.co/Mm0Lq77LyY … pic.twitter.com/jCMLkAYBNh— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 3, 2019