Gearing up for Cheltenham Festival 2022: three novice horses to watch from Haydock

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  • Plenty more winning novice British horses booked their ticket to the Cheltenham Festival in March following their exertions over the weekend at Haydock’s jump meeting (22 January). Here are three to follow…


    Haydock’s Sky Bet Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle winner (pictured) made it an even better weekend for Nicky Henderson, landing this Supreme Novices trial under jockey Aidan Coleman. The JP McManus-owned son of Walk In The Park, a brother to Douvan, is now unbeaten in all four races under Rules having gone through the sales ring in November 2020 for £570,000.

    “It was a very good race on a quick track and I got there quite comfortably, I was in top gear but we were always going to go away at the back of the last,” said Coleman.

    Tommy’s Oscar

    There will be no more romantic story in the build-up to this year’s meeting than that of Tommy’s Oscar. The seven-year-old is trained by Ann Hamilton, a permit-holder from near Hexham, and owned by her husband Ian, who farms cattle and sheep by Great Bavington (Bavington Bob is one of their horses and has won three times this season). They have six horses and the four they have run this season have won 10 races between them at a 43% strike rate.

    Tommy’s Oscar had worked his way up through the ranks of handicap hurdles in the north to earn a shot at Haydock’s Unibet Champion Hurdle Trial which he won by five lengths. With two previous winners of the race Navajo Brave and Global Citizen opening up a 20-length lead, it might have been a difficult race tactically for Danny McMenamin but he was patience personified, joined them two out and cruised to a five-length win.

    Honeysuckle apart (Appreciate It has not run yet), it is an open Champion Hurdle and Tommy’s Oscar would have as good an each-way chance as anything.

    “The horses are well this season,” reflected the trainer afterwards, “and next season things might go wrong, so we’ve got to have a go at Cheltenham I think.”

    Royale Pagaille

    The in-form team of trainer Venetia Williams and jockey Charlie Deutsch triumphed in Haydock’s Grade Two Peter Marsh Handicap Chase over 3m1½f with a fantastic weight-carrying achievement from eight-year-old Royale Pagaille, who was carrying the familiar pink and green colours of Susannah and Rich Ricci. Royale Pagaille won this last year and went on to finish sixth in the Gold Cup and his odds for the Cheltenham showpiece have now shortened considerably.

    “He’s a Grade One horse and we’re just thinking about where to go next,” said Rich Ricci. “If the ground comes up soft at Cheltenham we have to go there for the Gold Cup and if it doesn’t we’ll find something else, but he’s a fantastic horse.”

    • Read Marcus’s full report on the weekend’s racing action in Horse & Hound, in shops on Thursday 27 January

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