There were a couple of notable performances at Punchestown on Sunday, starting with Carefully Selected (up 8 lb to 145p) in the Grade 3 novice chase. He had created a good impression when making a winning start over fences at Fairyhouse seven weeks earlier, and he built on that in no uncertain terms over a trip that is likely to prove a bare minimum. Jockey Paul Townend kept it simple on the 7/4-on favourite, making all, and he was in control when left clear at the last, winning easily. Carefully Selected was subsequently made favourite for the National Hunt Chase, though it's worth noting that, under the revised guidelines introduced for this season, he'll need to finish in the first four of a chase at three miles plus beforehand to qualify. The Grade 2 Ten Up at Navan next month provides such an opportunity.
Just over an hour and a half later the Gordon Elliott-trained Andy Dufresne (remains on 139p) quickly bounced back to winning ways in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. It was an up-to-scratch renewal of what is usually an informative Grade 2 – Douvan, Min and Getabird all successful in the past – but Andy Dufresne only had to run to a useful level to get the better of the less-exposed Captain Guinness (up 8 lb to 136p). However, the pair pulled well clear of a solid yardstick back in third, and both should be viewed in a positive light for now. Connections of the winner were non-committal about plans, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next, with a return to two and a half miles no problem.
The Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle was the main betting heat on Kempton’s card on Saturday, but in truth, it wasn’t the deepest renewal, with unexposed types on short supply. Debestyman (up 9 lb to 124) looked the likely winner approaching the last, finding plenty when blundering and unseating his rider, and he has been rated as a one-length winner for now. The favourite Notre Pari (126 from 128p) also came to grief at the final flight, and it was the Nicky Henderson-trained Burrows Edge (137 from 132+) who picked up the pieces, though he was really motoring approaching the last and would have thrown down a stern challenge to Debestyman. Henderson stated that Burrows Edge isn’t the most straightforward, and the fact he has been kept almost exclusively to right-handed tracks so far rather limits his options.
Full replay and reaction: Burrows Edge was a fortunate winner of the Lanzarote Hurdle @kemptonparkrace today while Goa Lil entered the Cheltenham Festival picture with a gutsy success >>>https://t.co/f6KrEZ6EWh pic.twitter.com/1ewydnsMJu— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 11, 2020
Earlier on the card Frodon (remains on 164) won the newly-promoted Grade 2 chase which has been named after dual King George winner Silviniaco Conti. Top Notch (down 6 lb to 159) was sent off a narrow favourite, but he seemingly had an off day, and Frodon didn’t need to be at his best to resume winning ways. He looked more like his old self under regular rider Bryony Frost, pressing on at the tenth and always doing enough out in front. The plan is to head to the Denman Chase at Newbury next, while further down the line a return to Cheltenham to defend his crown in the Ryanair Chase is also on the cards.
"This was much more like it from the Ryanair Chase winner"@thebedfordfox discusses the victory of Frodon who is now set for the Denman Chase @NewburyRacing following his victory @kemptonparkrace for @PFNicholls & Bryony Frost@ABE_Dubai #LuckOnSunday pic.twitter.com/DXYOs88rqO— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 12, 2020
It was a strong renewal of the Classic Chase – Warwick’s premier prize – and the steadily progressive Kimberlite Candy (up 7 lb to 149) delivered an ultimately dominant success. It was another career best after his second-place finish in the Becher Chase at Aintree, and it has been no surprise that the addition of cheekpieces have done plenty for a horse who has lacked a bit of application at times. He is now building up a solid profile in terms of the Grand National, is another good advert for the Tom Lacey stable and is a young horse to be positive about.
Full replay and reaction: Kimberlite Candy enhances Grand National claims with Classic Chase success at @WarwickRaces 🐎 Watch what @richiemclernon had to say afterwards in our report >>>https://t.co/dTB6vDAUFs pic.twitter.com/n26DOqSuQp— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 11, 2020
The Hampton Novices’ Chase earlier on the card has been a significant one for some time now and it was run as a Grade 2 event for the first time this year. An up-to-scratch field assembled and it was won by the resolute Two For Gold (144p from 139), who battled well to fend off the challenge of the strong-travelling Hold The Note (up 13 lb to 143p). All three of Two For Gold’s wins over fences have been above-average on the clock, recording good timefigures on each occasion, and the form is working out well, too. The last two winners of this novice have been sent off favourite for the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a test that Two For Gold is sure to relish. The runner-up is another to be positive about, just outstayed by a game rival over the longest trip he has faced, and he will have no problem dropping back to two and a half miles given the way he travelled.
Full replay and reaction: Two For Gold earned quotes for two Cheltenham Festival races following this gutsy performance @WarwickRaces and @kimbaileyracing explained afterwards how it was also a poignant victory >>> https://t.co/5krgJXnr4a pic.twitter.com/2NFWDfWf6P— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 11, 2020
A competitive – though not vintage – field lined up for this year’s Leamington Novices’ Hurdle, but the race was all the poorer for the late withdrawal of Harry Senior. It was won by Mossy Fen (up 4 lb to 133p), who had excuses the time before at Cheltenham, but quickly got back on the upward curve and deserves plenty of credit given he found it barely enough of a test (will be suited by a return to three miles) and still looked raw. Mossy Fen is a smashing long-term prospect (has the physique for chasing) and Aintree appeals as a better option than Cheltenham this spring.