The November Meeting provided three days of spectacular action and once again threw up plenty of clues for The Cheltenham Festival in March. With that in mind, we picked out nine horses who caught the eye over the weekend …
Hermes Allen (Paul Nicholls)
Hermes Allen maintained the outstanding start to the season for Paul Nicholls when making every yard a winning one in the Grade Two Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. After today’s eye-catching victory, the 13-times champion Jump trainer described Hermes Allen as “the best of our novices at the moment”.
A winning Irish point-to-pointer, the five-year-old Poliglote gelding had created a very favourable on his hurdling debut when making all to score by 27 lengths at Stratford last month. It was a similar story in today’s two miles and five furlongs contest with Hermes Allen going straight to the front under Harry Cobden. Jumping superbly throughout, he kept finding more and stayed on resolutely to take the honours by nine lengths from Irish raider Music Drive.
Magic Dancer (Kerry Lee)
A thrilled Kerry Lee credited an ‘incredible’ ride from Richard Patrick as the recipe behind Magic Dancer’s fine performance to win the Glenfarclas Veterans' Handicap Chase at Cheltenham today, day one of The November Meeting – and provide the yard with a first victory since May in the process.
Lee has plenty of happy memories at this meeting, winning the 2019 renewal of the Paddy Power Gold Cup with Happy Diva, but you have to go back to the 29th of May to find the Hereford trainer’s last success, with Demachine at Uttoxeter.
Magic Dancer arrived here in fine heart, however, having won on his most recent start at Ludlow in April, and was also a dual winner at Cheltenham, including in a novices’ handicap hurdle at The November Meeting back in 2017.
Unanswered Prayers (Chris Gordon)
Unanswered Prayers wasted no time in getting off the mark over fences after finding extra in reserve late on to register a battling front-running success in the SSS Super Alloys Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.
A triple winner over hurdles the six-year-old hit the ground running on his chasing debut following a game performance under Tom Cannon to get off the mark for the campaign in the two-and-a-half-mile contest.
Having been as big as 6-1 yesterday with one betting firm the gelded son of Ocovango was sent off 9-4 Favourite to make an instant impact over fences-and he did not disappoint after taking a significant step forward for his comeback run over hurdles.
Although looking somewhat of a sitting duck to the strong travelling Railway Hurricane over the last Unanswered Prayers was not to be denied after pulling out more when required to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
Scriptwriter (Milton Harris)
Wiltshire-based trainer Milton Harris landed the Grade Two JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle 12 months ago with Knight Salute and he repeated the feat with Scriptwriter, who landed the 2022 renewal of the same extended two-mile contest on day two of The November Meeting.
Travelling ominously well entering the home straight, the son of Churchill was delivered perfectly by Paddy Brennan to take the lead just after the final flight and he ran on well to hold off the late challenge of Perseus Way and take the honours by two and a quarter lengths.
Last year’s winner Knight Salute went on to land the Grade One Jewson Anniversary 4-y-o Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree and Harris holds similarly high hopes for Scriptwriter, who is now unbeaten in two starts over hurdles having won on his jumping debut at Sedgefield last month.
GA Law (Jamie Snowden)
The first big race of the Jump season, the £160,000 Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham today, went the way of Ga Law for owners The Footie Partnership, trainer Jamie Snowden and jockey Jonathan Burke. It was a first success for all connections in the famous two-and-a-half-mile Premier Handicap Chase.
Approaching the third last, most of the 14-strong field appeared to hold some sort of chance. It was Irish raider French Dynamite that appeared to have taken a decisive advantage at the last but a less than fluent jump halted his momentum and Ga Law came with a strong late challenge to get up and take the honours by three-quarters of a length.
The winner was a Grade Two winner as a novice back in 2020 and after missing last season the six-year-old Sinndar gelding made a promising reappearance in the Grade Two Jewson St Helens Old Roan Handicap Chase at Aintree last month.
The Real Whacker (Patrick Neville)
The Real Whacker made the perfect start to his career when making all to land the opening mallardjewellers.com Novices' Chase over an extended three miles.
Despite being the only one of the five starters to be making his chasing debut, the six-year-old son of Mahler jumped from fence to fence under Gavin Sheehan. At the final fence, he faced a strong challenge from Irish challenger Indigo Breeze but kept finding more for a game three-quarter length success.
Winning trainer Neville, 50, has around 15 horses in training at his base in North Yorkshire, which he shares with Ann Duffield, and was enjoying his first winner at Cheltenham.
Nube Negra (Dan Skelton)
Nube Negra made light work of defending his Grade Two Shloer Chase crown as he came home the facile winner of the two-mile contest at Cheltenham today, day three of The November Meeting.
A comfortable six-length winner in 2021, his task today was made substantially easier with the defection of principal rival Edwardstone. The eight-year-old Dink gelding gave his partner Harry Skelton no cause for concern in 2022 as he sauntered to an eight-length triumph over Ganapathi.
Betfair/Paddy Power left Nube Negra unchanged at 12-1 for next month’s Grade One Betfair Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown Park (Saturday 3rd December).
I Like To Move It (Nigel Twiston-Davies)
If you’ve been to Cheltenham recently, there’s every chance you’ve heard the song ‘I Like To Move It’ by Reel 2 Real.
Music fans of a certain era will no doubt have enjoyed it being played on the racecourse PA system, but so too has trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies as the unmistakeable ‘tune’ means his horse of the same name is being walked back into the winner’s enclosure.
Top-weight of 12 stone proved no bar to I Like To Move It as he powered to an impressive victory in the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, the extended two-mile Premier Handicap and feature contest on day three of The November Meeting.
The five-year-old son of Trans Island was in front after two flights and saw off all challengers to take the honours by five and a half lengths from 4-1 Favourite Gin Coco.
Successful trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was winning the contest for the second time after Khyber Kim (2009), who went on to enjoy Grade One success as well as finish runner-up in the Champion Hurdle. I Like To Move It becomes only the second horse to win the Greatwood Hurdle under 12 stone following Leotard in 1993.
He will likely be seen at The International Hurdle on Saturday 10th December next. He will follow in the hoofprints of a good horse we had called Guard Your Dreams and The New One used to frequent this race before that. It looks quite busy at the Champion Hurdle but that is the idea at the moment.
Fennor Cross (John McConnell)
County Meath trainer John McConnell is always to be respected on his visits to Cheltenham and he added to the three winners he saddled at The Showcase last month when Fennor Cross came home in front in the Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Trial Novices’ Hurdle over an extended two miles.
Partnered by Simon Torrens, the five-year-old Elzaam gelding made steady progress to take the lead entering the final furlong and stayed on well to win by three and a half lengths from Ukantango with another three and a quarter lengths back to 2-1 Favourite Springwell Bay in third.
You may remember that in 2021 I Like To Move It won this very race, who came back at this meeting to win the Unibet Greatwood Handicap Hurdle.