Oscars back to winning ways on chasing debut
Report: Punchestown, Wednesday
Book New Years Eve Panoramic Restaurant Beginners Chase 2m, 4yo+
TWO seasons ago he was a dual Grade 1 winner and one of the most highly regarded novice hurdlers either side of the Irish sea. Last season he was pitched in at the deep end against the best two-mile hurdlers around without ever showing the same sparkle, but on Wednesday Oscars Well returned to the winner's enclosure after a successful start to what looks an exciting chasing career.
It is a journey he hasn't made since February 2011, when winning the Grade 1 Deloitte Novice Hurdle by five and a half lengths, but victory was never in doubt.
Settled in fourth by Robbie Power, the Jessica Harrington-trained seven-year-old jumped accurately and economically, travelling strongly and pulling his way to the front before dismissing his rivals with the contempt he became famous for during that wonderful novice hurdling season.
It is a race that has seen the start of several successful chasing careers, with Schindlers Hunt, Forpadydeplasterer and Noble Prince among the winners since 2006 - the latter two using it as a launchpad for a campaign that ended in success at the Cheltenham Festival - and Paddy Power reacted by cutting the winner to 10-1 (from 14) for the Racing Post Arkle.
With decent hurdlers Darwins Fox and Plan A, second and third in the betting, beaten a long way out, Oscars Well didn't have to come off the bridle to open up a wide margin in the home straight, winning by 12 lengths.
A delighted Harrington said: "That was a lovely introduction. I couldn't believe how well he was jumping. Robbie [Power] said long or short it didn't matter. He'll definitely go to Fairyhouse for the Drinmore Novice Chase but he won't run before then, we'll keep him as fresh as possible."
Power added: "From the word go he was foot perfect everywhere, he was very professional. Since he came back in he's always been in good form and he's been working well. We were hoping for a nice school and to get a bit of confidence into him and you couldn't ask for anymore.
"He's a class horse, he travelled and jumped really well today. He could step up in trip for a better race, two and a half on better ground would be ideal. He's a lot more relaxed so he'll probably get further than two and a half. We'll take it one step at a time but right now there's no need to go any further."
It was as straightforward and impressive a chasing debut as connections could wish for, and for racing fans there is the added excitement of one of the sports brightest young talents returning to something like his astonishing best.