Now dropped back in class, Champagne Well looks to hold leading claims of landing the 2m 5f Ballynore Novices’ Hurdle Trial that gets proceedings underway on day one of The Showcase meeting at Cheltenham this Friday (14:00).
Trained locally by the in-form Fergal O’Brien, this six-year-old is a bumper winner who shaped with plenty of promise to make the frame in five of his six starts over the obstacles last season.
They included when going down by just a short-head to the highly-regarded Downtown Getaway in a decent eight-runner contest.
He was also a fine third of 18 to Third World in a competitive Grade 3 novices’ handicap hurdle final at Sandown.
Champagne Well took things up at the second last and held every chance on the run-in until weakening close home.
The runner-up One For Rosie went on to finish a fine third to Reserve Tank in a Grade 1 at the Aintree Grand National Festival. That gives the form a solid look.
Champagne Well went on to round off the campaign in a Grade 1 at the same meeting when finishing sixth of 12 to Champ in the 3m Sefton Novices’ Hurdle.
Although eventually beaten just under 20 lengths, the son of Gold Well ran a bit better than that suggests.
He made a bad mistake early doors but still pressed the leaders and held every chance two from home before weakening late on.
Judged on that effort, the drop back down in trip looks sure to suit. This class 2 affair at The Showcase also represents a return to calmer waters.
Champagne Well also appeals as the type to do well a second season novice, so – at 5/2 with Betfred – looks worth siding with to open his account over the obstacles.
Al Dancer can waltz to Showcase success on chase debut
Only four are set to go to post for the 2m novice chase (14:35), but it features a mouthwatering clash between top hurdlers Al Dancer and Getaway Trump.
The former has reportedly schooled well ahead of his eagerly awaited debut over the larger obstacles at The Showcase and is taken to come out on top.
This Nigel Twiston-Davies trained six-year-old won four of his five starts over hurdles last term.
They included impressive victories in handicap company at The International meeting here in December where he cruised clear to easily beat Not That Fuisse by 11 lengths.
The son of Al Namix then landed an almighty gamble in the valuable and rearranged Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Ascot when sent off the the 5/2 favourite.
Al Dancer travelled ominously well throughout and, after challenging on the bridle two from home, only had to be driven out after the last to readily account for Magic Dancer by just under four lengths.
It was a most taking display and one which saw him sent off joint-second favourite for the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
However, he ran well below par to finish a 34-length 10th of 16 to Klassical Dream and it may well have been the case off the race coming too soon after his Ascot exertions.
Al Dancer appeals as the type to make up into a very smart chaser. So, with the stable in fine form and operating at a strike rate of 28 per cent in the last fortnight, he looks worth siding with at evens with Coral to take this en route to better things.
Cobolobo weighted to strike for O’Neill
Jackdaws Castle handler Jonjo O’Neill has been among the winners of late, so Cobolobo looks decent value at the 6/1 on offer with Betway to provide him with another success in the 3m 1f amateur riders’ handicap chase (16:55).
This seven-year-old ran a stormer on chasing debut at Ffos Las last November when getting collared close home and beaten a short-head by Albert Bartlett winner Kilbricken Storm who is currently rated 150 over fences.
The third home Steely Addition, whom he beat by 3 3/4 lengths, has won two of his three starts since and is also now rated 150. That gives the form a solid look.
It also suggests that Cabolobo’s current mark of 123 could seriously underestimate his ability, given that he met those rivals on level weights.
He was far from disgraced off it on handicap debut at Wincanton when a keeping on never nearer 19-length third of 10 to Reikers Island in a race which has worked out well.
Cobolobo was also yet to be asked a serious question and making stealthy headway when coming to grief at the 16th in the Devon National at Exeter when last seen in action back in February.
He now returns to action after 245 days on the sidelines, but fitness is unlikely to be an issue.
This is because he has a good record fresh – having won and finished second on his first start in the last two seasons.
Cobolobo also remains open to stacks more progress after just three starts over fences and, on his run behind Kilbricken Storm, looks weighted to take all the beating in this class 3 affair on day 1 of The Showcase.