Progressive five-year-old Does He Know (11/8F) continued his unbeaten autumn as he gained a third straight win in the G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle.
Runner-up on both his hurdle appearances last season, Does He Know had already produced two improved performances for trainer Kim Bailey this campaign, including a course and distance victory on his latest outing at The Showcase.
Classy Flat performer The Grand Visir held a substantial lead over the rest of the field for much of the race but was reeled in by Does He Know, Wild Romance and Grand Mogul entering the home straight.
Does He Know took control of affairs jumping the last and was kept up to his work by David Bass for a three-length success over the rallying Wild Romance. The winner was introduced at 33/1 for the G1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at The Festival™ in March by Paddy Power, who also make him the same price for the G1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
David Bass said: “The horse is in unbelievable form; he’s had three quick runs and felt as good as ever there. The way he picked up down to the last and winged it was so impressive. Everything went to plan today, Robbie [Dunne] just came off the rail turning in, and the gap opened and I had the horse to get through there quickly. Like I said before, I am lucky to be riding very healthy, fit horses and to be a really small part of the whole operation.
“To be honest, I’m just trying to take it all in and try and enjoy every day and every moment of riding nice horses. I feel in a very lucky position and we are lucky just to be at work, so I am trying to take it in and enjoy it every day.”
Kim Bailey said: “It was a really good performance, as David said afterwards, he has got better and better with every run, and he felt more impressed with him today than he did last time. He is still a baby and he is learning, so it’s a really good start.
“He is a lovely horse and he’s progressed every time he has run. He had his two little runs last year and finished second and I was delighted we weren’t able to run him again as he is progressing every day.
“He is a very buzzy individual, which is obviously a slight worry, but on the racetrack he’s absolutely fine. We’re probably lucky we haven’t got crowds here today because he might have found it quite difficult, but we’ve got time to try and work on that. He is just a thoroughly likeable individual.
“I bought him here, Aiden Murphy and I bought him, and we fell in love with him at the sales. Jacqueline Coward obviously had him, begged me to buy him, and he was the first horse she’d sold and she was very keen to have a good one come through — she’s got a reputation to look after and it was a good way for her to start, so well done to her.
“Obviously the Challow Hurdle at Newbury comes to mind, although it depends on what the ground is doing. He handles fast ground very, very easily and I’m sure as he is very agile in everything he does, I don’t see why he shouldn’t carry on. I just don’t like running horses on really heavy ground, especially youngsters like him.
“He’s certainly going to stay, and he’s got the speed as well. Today’s he’s shown the tenacity — for a moment I wasn’t sure he was going to do it and then suddenly he picked up and quickened, which is the sign of a probably quite a nice horse, so how good a race it was, time will only tell, but I’m just happy with the way he’s done it.”
3.35pm Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 5f
1 Does He Know – Kim Bailey 5-11-03 David Bass 11/8F
2 Wild Romance – Dan Skelton 5-10-07 Harry Skelton 10/1
3 Polish – Fergal O’Brien 5-11-00 Paddy Brennan 11/2
Time: 5m 17.24s
Distances: 3, 5
Tote Win: £2.30 Places: £1.80 £4.30 Exacta: £15.70 Trifecta: £57.10