Last week-end in 2018 is a busy one for Barbury
Just the two silver medals for us on Boxing Day, but we are hoping to end 2018 on a high, Alsa Mix being our high-profile representative in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.
We took this prestigious prize a couple of years ago with Messire des Obeaux, and Alsa Mix has followed the same path as, like him, he heads there, having won the Grade 2 Winter Novices’ Hurdle.
Messire des Obeaux later finished third at both the Cheltenham and Aintree festivals, and Alan has always held Alsa Mix in similarly high regard.
Alan said:”Sandown was a massive step up in class for Alsa Mix, but we were banking on the longer trip and more testing ground playing to our mare’s strengths, and she duly beat the boys.
“This step up in class means she will have to improve again, but if the rain returned she might well do just that as she won her point-to-point in heavy ground, so I won’t be complaining if the forecasters have got it wrong.
“In contrast, Praeceps, one of two newcomers we have in the ‘Farewell to Richard Osgood’ Juvenile Hurdle, would probably prefer that the ground continued to dry out.
“Praeceps won a couple on the all-weather for Sir Mark Prescott and worked well last Saturday, so we are looking forward to getting him started, as we are with Running Scared who came to us from Eve Johnson Houghton and ran a pleasing first race for us in a valuable polytrack handicap at Kempton.
“He, too, has been working and schooling well and there was only 2lb between the pair of them on the Flat, so both could be interesting recruits.”
Another decent prospect we launch there from the level is Reverend Jacobs, who kick-starts his new career in the Introductory Hurdle.
Alan added:”Like Cracker Factory, Reverend Jacobs came from William Haggas at the Horses-in-Training Sale, and if he does as well as him I’ll be more than happy.
“The Reverend won three on the Flat for William, at Ascot, York and the summer course at Newmarket, so being rated 91 he could be quite exciting. He cost 100,000gns but has schooled well since he joined us.
“Rainbow Dreamer ran well on his comeback run at Aintree, where he tired from the second last, but he ought to improve a lot on that when he runs in the handicap hurdle as he’d been off 18 months, though he might need one more outing to sharpen him up.
“Wilde Blue Yonder makes his debut over fences in the novice handicap chase. He has been on the floor a few times over hurdles, but I always hoped he would show more respect for the larger obstacles, and he has been extremely good on the schooling grounds at home.”
We also have a quartet going up to Doncaster tomorrow, and Alan said:”Ballywood was disappointing over hurdles when he came over from France, but he looked a different horse when he had his first crack at fences for us at Taunton.
“He travelled well and was very accurate over the obstacles, so, while there are plenty of people who think French recruits need soft ground, Ballywood has a good action and seemed much happier on that dryer surface.
“Senior Citizen, who runs in the EBF Qualifier, is a work in progress , but, having won his maiden hurdle first time out at Chepstow, he was a good third when going up two grades at Ascot.”
Also in action on Town Moor is Dexcite, who was still in contention when he tipped up two out at Warwick, where he started favourite, and Tara View.
Finally, we have three heading down to Taunton on Sunday, and Alan concluded:”Passing Call has thrived since she shrugged off that bout of second-itis, and, while her winning run came to an end at Newbury’s Ladbrokes meeting next month, it was a Listed race, as is this, and the ground would also have been as soft as she likes.
“Passing Call is likely to be get better ground at Taunton, while Mahlermade, who took a while to warm up over the course last time, stayed on well up the straight and has come out of the race well.”
Our other runner at Taunton is Tiffin Top, who was no great-shakes on the Flat for John Gosden, but a change in scenery, plus the switch to hurdling might make a difference.