Bigbadjohn impresses as a future Hennessy hero
The 2016 Hennessy Gold Cup is still more than three weeks away, yet some people are already talking about next year's race.
After Bigbadjohn had readily disposed of hot favourite Our Kaempfer in a two-runner beginners' chase that could easily have been dismissed as muddling, trainer Rebecca Curtis and jockey Jonathan Moore made their regard for him abundantly clear.
Curtis, who has made a terrific start to the jumps season proper, reported: "Jonathan said you wouldn't ride a nicer horse, so we'll have to look at the good novices now. We think of him as a Hennessy type for next year."
Moore, who looks very much at home in his new job and was riding a first Newbury winner at just the third attempt, was every bit as positive.
He said: "He's the sort of horse you wake up in the morning dreaming of riding. He's a lovely horse and was very good here."
No 50-1 chance this time
Dusky Legend is being aimed at another crack at the Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March after defying the penalty for a Warwick win in May with a convincing four-and-a-half length defeat of Copper Kay in a far more competitive affair.
Last March the six-year-old was a 50-1 chance when chasing home Limini in the festival novice her owner-breeders Richard and Lizzie Kelvin-Hughes sponsor, but she will not be anything like that price this time if her campaign continues as it has started. Indeed, she is already only 10-1 with Paddy Power, and 6-1 clear favourite in a place.
Trainer Alan King said: "We'll try to win another of these before the winter ground sets in, and then we'll bring her back for another go at the Trull House Stud novice, which Richard and Lizzie sponsor. She's a novice all season as she didn't win until May."
Jockey Wayne Hutchinson described Dusky Legend as "handy" and said she "has a good-sized engine".
He added: "The only times she's had her ground was at Cheltenham, Warwick and here."
O'Brien doubles up
Tom O'Brien enjoyed a double on the Hughie Morrison-trained Major Mac in the 2m4 1/2f novice hurdle and the Colin Tizzard-trained Sandy Beach in the 2m4f handicap chase.
'Enjoyed' was very much the operative word too. He had an armchair ride on Major Mac, who carried the Cesarewitch-winning colours of Sweet Selection's owner Paul Brocklehurst to a ridiculously easy win from two opponents, then an hour or so later had exhilaration of jumping Newbury's chase course on a horse who was clearly relishing his task and came home in style to score by eight lengths.
"Sandy Beach is a brilliant jumper and this is a proper winter track," enthused O'Brien as he hurried back to weigh in.
Thought for the day
Jockeys were complimentary about conditions, and only one of the afternoon's three non-runners was on account of unsuitable ground. It was disappointing therefore that we had a two-runner chase and a three-runner hurdle, as it made for rather a flat start to the track's jumps season.