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Gavin Cromwell eyes Christmas Grade 1s as Vanillier lands Florida Pearl

Vanillier: off the mark over fences at Punchestown on Sunday
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Sunday: Punchestown

Gavin Cromwell is eyeing a step up to the highest level for Albert Bartlett winner Vanillier this Christmas after the imposing grey opened his account over fences in the Grade 2 Liam & Valerie Brennan Florida Pearl Novice Chase.

It did not develop into the test initially expected for the 13-8 shot, partnered to victory by Keith Donoghue in the colours of Paul and Helen Keaveney.

A declared six-runner field was whittled down to four when leading National Hunt Chase fancy Run Wild Fred became a non-runner due to yielding ground, and Dewcup was withdrawn after running on Saturday.

A heavy fall four from home then sadly saw the talented Noel Meade-trained novice Sixshooter suffer a fatal injury.

Gavin Cromwell on Vanillier: "He's a big, lazy type of horse who wants to get his toe in"

Vanillier had already stamped his authority by the time Ballyshannon Rose came down at the last after running an admirable race, leaving two finishers.

"I would have liked it if something had joined him earlier in the race just to force a bit more pace into it, but he's a dour stayer," said Cromwell. "He's a big, lazy type of horse who wants to get his toe in."

BoyleSports cut the strong stayer to 8-1 (from 14) for the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and left him unchanged at 12-1 for the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase.

A tilt at the 3m Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown or the 2m3½f Matchbook Betting Exchange Faugheen Novice Chase at Limerick could be on the cards.

Pressed on his preferred Cheltenham target for Vanillier at this stage, Cromwell replied: "Maybe the shorter novice chase would be the preference."

Diamond hard

Plenty have high hopes for unbeaten bumper winner Dysart Dynamo this season but his half-sister Dysart Diamond has kept the family's name in lights so far, adding the Listed Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle to her haul for Willie Mullins.

Owned and bred by Eleanor Manning, the mount of Bryan Cooper kept on gamely to continue an excellent season, having already plundered a valuable handicap hurdle at the Listowel harvest festival.

Dysart Diamond: continues to improve for Willie Mullins

Smooth Operator 

Enda Bolger is well established as a trainer of cross-country performers and he saddled the 1-2 in the opening Risk Of Thunder Chase over the banks. Shady Operator led home Midnight Maestro to provide the trainer with a remarkable 11th win in the race.

Family finish 

The finish to the €40,000 Ryans Cleaning Handicap Chase turned into a family affair as the game Fully Charged, trained by Henry de Bromhead, got the better of his brother Alfa Mix by a neck under a fine Hugh Morgan ride.

The Big Doyen bolts up

Peter Fahey looks to have unearthed a useful four-year-old in The Big Doyen, who could hardly have been more impressive when winning the bumper by 15 lengths.

Results, replays and analysis

Upping The Ante star Gavin Lynch joins the Racing Post roster for a weekly Saturday column throughout the jumps season. He'll offer a guide to the weekend action, highlight the horses and races to watch and share his punting wisdom. Read it every Saturday in the Racing Post or online from 4pm every Friday, exclusively for Members' Club subscribers. Sign up to Members' Club here for more top jumps season insight.

I would have liked it if something had joined him earlier in the race, just to force a bit more pace into it, but he's a dour stayer
E.W. Terms