A packed weekend of action across the past few days has thrown up plenty of excitement and a number of brilliant performances, offering excitement for what lies in store. There was Grade 1 action from Fairyhouse and Newcastle, whilst Newbury had their three-day meeting, capped off with the prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup.
There was plenty of good action today, both in England and Ireland, with horses looking to enhance their early Cheltenham credentials. Perhaps the most exciting horse out today was SHANESHILL, a runner-up at the previous two festivals in the Champion Bumper and Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, who made his debut over fences.
The top quality jumps racing is coming thick and fast, and this weekend gone featured one of the early-season showpieces; the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock. A race won four times by the mighty Kauto Star, including back in 2011 when he regained his crown to rapturous applause, this race always excites and Saturday was no exception. This time it was another horse who regained the race and in dazzling style.
Seven days ago, minutes after Sprinter Sacre made his stunning return at Cheltenham, the unthinkable happened and Faugheen lost his unbeaten record. Sent off 1/6 favourite in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, it should have been a routine victory for the reigning Champion Hurdle. But as with Sprinter Sacre, racing never fails to surprise, and this was probably best summed up by Nicky Henderson in his post-race interview, when he remarked: “Oh Faugheen is going to get beaten”.