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Plan comes together for Jonjo O'Neill as Soaring Glory lands Betfair Hurdle

Soaring Glory (right): produced a late burst to finish clear of Fifty Ball and Edwardstone
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We all love it when a plan comes together and Jonjo O'Neill could not hide his delight after watching Soaring Glory land the Betfair Hurdle.

The six-year-old produced a late burst under Jonjo O'Neill jnr to gallop clear of Fifty Ball and Edwardstone in a typically bunched finish and become the ninth novice hurdler to win the Grade 3 since 2010.

It had been a long-term target for Soaring Glory, who was cut to 10-1 (from 25) for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle next month. 

"This was one of those plans that came together – it all went right," said the winning trainer. "He jumped and travelled well. It's easy to get into trouble in a race like that but everything fell into place. 

"Once he jumped the last I was happy and thought it would take a good one to pass him because we know how quick he is at home."

Jonjo O'Neill Jr and Jonjo O'Neill (right) pose with Soaring Glory and the winning groom

On whether he could be aimed at the festival, O'Neill added: "I'll speak with the owner and see how he comes out of the race. This was his primary target and anything else he achieves this season will be a bonus, but we might go that way if the ground is decent."

O'Neill jnr described the victory as one of the biggest of his career and told ITV Racing it was "extra special" to win for his father.

Reformed character

Sam Twiston-Davies joked he may need a sabbatical at the end of a challenging season but he was given a good reason to postpone it by Gowel Road, who showed his class in the 2m½f novice hurdle.

The five-year-old has not always been straightforward to train but stayed on well to finish five and a half lengths clear of Good Ball. 

"He had a look at a couple of the wings but still got the job done and he's not the finished article by any means," said Twiston-Davies. "He was a bit of a rebel to break in and I definitely didn't put my name down for the job. He bucked Tom Bellamy off plenty of times."

Asked if Gowel Road could be aimed at the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle next month, for which he was cut to 25-1 (from 33-1), the jockey added with a smile: "Of course, he's trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies! We'll see what Dad wants to do but it wouldn't surprise me."

Sam Twiston-Davies drives Gowel Road to victory in the novice hurdle

Tight finish

Polish stayed on powerfully after the final flight under Paddy Brennan to deny Howling Milan in a thrilling finish to the 3m handicap hurdle.

Five horses were in contention in the home straight but the six-year-old dug deep to score by two lengths for Fergal O'Brien, who followed up his victory in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Haydock on Saturday.

"I always had it in my mind that if I wasn't travelling I would finish well, and that's exactly what I did," said the winning jockey. "There were seven horses going better than me turning in and the Newbury winning post felt as far away as pubs reopening at the minute."

Bouncing back

Enrilo bounced back after being pulled up at Kempton on Boxing Day with a convincing success in the 2m7½f novice handicap chase.

The seven-year-old denied Hold The Note under Harry Cobden, who suggested he could be aimed at the Randox Grand National festival.

"He's jumped really well and I didn't want him to get to the front too quickly," said Cobden. "He could run a big race off a decent pace and might be one for the Ladbrokes Trophy next season off a tidy mark."

Bright future

Good Risk At All struck at 10-1 in the Listed bumper, which has been won by high-class performers including Ballyandy and Definitly Red. 

The five-year-old, who won a similar contest at Cheltenham last time, finished two and a quarter lengths clear of I Like To Move It.


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Once he jumped the last I was happy and thought it would take a good one to pass him because we know how quick he is at home
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