Youlneverwalkalone could be on a mission to show Cheltenham racegoers what they missed at last season’s Festival and what might be in store for next March.
The J.P.McManus-owned hurdler, carrying the same colours as triple championhurdler Istabraq, cruised over the last to destroy his rivals at Fairyhouse on Sunday and is poised for a quick reappearance in the Bonusprint Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
Youlneverwalkalone started hot favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last spring but was only third behind Sausalito Bay, who fell when going well three out on Sunday.
He made hacks of the opposition in the two and a half-mile Hatton’s Grace Hurdle but still left his astute trainer Christy Roche scratching his head over his stable star’s correct distance. Whatever, Youlneverwalkalone would be an ideal deputy if anything happens to Istabraq before his fourth Champion Hurdle tilt. On the other hand, he looks quite capable of winning the Stayers’ Hurdle over three miles next March.
Limestone Lad, who used to attack his hurdles with great gusto and no little success, was hesitant going into his fences and was a bitterly disappointing fourth behind Sackville in the Pierse Drinmore Novices’ Chase.
TrainerFrances Crowley reckons Sackville is tailor made for the Royal & Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham in March. But Limestone Lad may now revert to hurdles and could find himself up against Youlneverwalkalone in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
With Sandown washed out on Saturday Chepstow took centre stage in England where Charlie Mann’s Moral Support won his fourth chase on the trot, the John Hughes Rehearsal Chase.
Mann is now looking for a suitable prep race for Moral Support before returning to Chepstow for the Welsh National on 27 December.
“He doesn’t do a lot at home on the gallops, but would eat his head off if you let him,” said the Lambourn trainer, who boasts a strike rate this season of 33% winners to runners. “Moral Support would put on a lot of weight and if I don’t run him, he would go backwards.”