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Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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HomeLatest NewsClassy Bob Olinger back to his brilliant best

Classy Bob Olinger back to his brilliant best

Bob Olinger showed a scintillating turn of foot to claim the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The former Turners Novice Chase winner has endured a tricky passage since his festival success, but he looked better than ever as he flew clear of his three rivals. Rachael Blackmore rode him cold and switched him off at the back of the field, before smuggling him into the race and letting him fly in the closing stages.

There was a promising run in behind from Grade 1 winner Marie’s Rock, and the Stayers Hurdle could be a possible future destination, as she shaped like a return to three mile may benefit. Currently 25/1 for the contest, whereas Bob Olinger is likely to head to Aintree as his ultimate seasonal aspiration.

A new year, but similar faces in the winning enclosure, as the opening contest of 2024 went to Nicky Henderson who landed a Maiden Hurdle with new recruit Peaky Boy. Having joined Seven Barrows from Michael Scudamore, it was a smooth success for a horse who had been off the track for 410 days. He could be a nice horse going forward and may be seen over further in time.

Evan Williams’ Libberty Hunter ran down Nigel Twiston-Davies’s Matata to land the Close Brothers Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase. The winner was impressive on his penultimate start at Wincanton and continued his upward curve to win an exciting finish.

Jockey Adam Wedge said: “Hopefully he’s on that upward spiral, he’s learnt a lot from his last couple of runs, this is a step in a good direction.”

Irish trainer Gavin Cromwell continued his exceptional record here this season, as Stumptown bounced back to form to win the Paddy Power Handicap Chase.
It was Cromwell’s seventh winner of the season from 17 rides, and he deserves plenty of credit for bringing his horses over here. Stumptown appeared to improve for the application of first-time blinkers, and he is now 40/1 for the Grand National at Aintree.

The first Premier Handicap of 2024 went to Ben Pauling, as Shakem Up’Arry capitalised on a tumbling overall mark and a reduction in trip, to win the New Year’s Day Handicap Chase. He showed glimpses of a revival on his previous start and roared back to form here, beating the admirably consistent Frero Banbou by seven lengths.

The disappointment of the race was Paul Nicholls’ Stage Star, who won the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the November meeting. He finished pulled up, seemingly unable to give away plenty of weight to his rivals. Attentions will still by on the Ryanair Chase at the Festival, where he is the 5/1 second favourite.

Olly Murphy’s Butch was all out when gamely holding on in the Paddy Power Handicap Hurdle. An agonising final furlong for connections, but a gutsy success for this likeable seven-year-old, who repelled My Bobby Dazzler and Ed Keeper. Interestingly, trainer Murphy has his sights set firmly on his chase career, with any success over hurdles deemed a bonus!

Owner Max McNeill described it perfectly when he said: “It doesn’t get any easier! When he came past, I thought he won, then I thought oh no, no! Where’s that line?”

Kel Du Large closed the show in cosy fashion in the National Hunt Flat Race. Jane Williams’ gelding impressed on debut at Exeter and took another step forward in tough conditions to land the final race of the day. There was plenty of promise in behind, with Dirty Den finishing second and Sorceleur back in third.

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