*Odds included are for Ante-post markets. Bets placed in advance of the final declarations for the race will be settled as a loser if your selection does not run in the specified race.
Gordon Elliott enjoyed a superb weekend at Down Royal, as did owners Cheveley Park, whose four runners at the two-day meeting all won by wide margins.
Cheveley Park have won the last two editions of the Champion Bumper with Envoi Allen and Ferny Hollow and their newcomer Sir Gerhard shot to the head of the market for next year’s race after winning by 14 lengths at Down Royal.
A £400,000 purchase after winning his only start in points, was sent off at 5/2-on, so he is clearly held in high regard, and he certainly looked a good prospect as he quickened well clear. His rating of 115 is just about the best posted in the division this season and leaves him only 8 lb shy of the standard required to win a typical renewal of the Champion Bumper.
Given his powerful connections and the style of victory, it is no surprise to see his price cut for the Champion Bumper.
Much of the focus on Friday at the Ulster track was understandably on the chasing debut of Envoi Allen, a horse that was labelled as having “everything needed to develop into one of the ‘greats’ of the sport” in Timeform’s Chasers & Hurdlers annual. Envoi Allen (142P) did nothing to dampen those hopes, barely touching a twig on his way to an easy success.
However, in terms of bare form, another novice chaser ran to an even higher level on the day. Shan Blue (c148p) was no match for Envoi Allen in the Ballymore at the Cheltenham Festival, where he finished sixth, but he has proved a natural since switching to fences and made it two-from-two over the larger obstacles when hammering his rivals in a three-mile novice chase at Wetherby on Friday.
Shan Blue was scintillating over his fences and is well worth his place in Grade 1 company, the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase on Boxing Day at Kempton appealing as a good option.
Nicky Henderson has targeted the 2m novice hurdle on Ascot’s card last Saturday with some talented types, most notably My Tent or Yours (2012) and Altior (2015). Captain Morgs was his representative this season and he won in the style of a promising novice, overcoming inexperience to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
There may not be a great deal of depth to the form but the time compared well with the following handicap hurdle and Captain Morgs looks sure to go on to better things.
He had caught the eye, in terms of physique and performance, when runner-up on his bumper debut at Warwick last month and it could be significant he was earmarked to start off over hurdles in this race.
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