Newbury horses to follow emerged from the two-day Winter Carnival after a host of top class graded action and hot handicaps took place.
The Ladbrokes Trophy, formerly and better known as the Hennessy Gold Cup, took centre stage and was won in fine style by Emma Lavelle’s De Rasher Counter.
There were also a number of trials for the Cheltenham Festival in March featuring stars of the present and future.
Cracking cards on Friday and Saturday at the Berkshire venue threw-up winners and losers which looks sure to pay their way during the rest of the jumps season.
Here’s a look at some of the key performances which caught the eye of OpenOdds experts ahead of the four-day extravaganza in the spring. Who are the Newbury horses to follow?
Champ triumphs in dramatic Berkshire Novices’ Chase
Champ maintained his unbeaten record over fences in the 2m 4f Grade 2 Berkshire Novices’ Chase, but had to survive two major scares in doing so.
The Nicky Henderson-trained seven year old, who is named after 20-time champion jump jockey Sir Anthony McCoy, had won over 2m 6f at the track earlier on reappearance.
He was sent off a heavily-backed 4/5 favourite to follow-up under regular pilot Barry Geraghty.
However, his supporters had their hearts in their mouths as Champ nearly got brought down by a loose horse at the third fence.
Geraghty did incredibly well to keep the partnership intact, but his mount’s confidence seemed to suffer as a result.
Champ then gradually warmed to the task and, after travelling strongly into contention rounding the home turn, was produced to take up the running at the last.
He then quickened smartly, but nearly took the wrong course on the long run-in, forcing Geraghty to snatch him up in a split second to avoid disaster.
Champ then stayed on strongly to beat Black Op going away by 1 1/4 lengths and was value for more than the winning margin.
Given how the race panned out, it was a performance which could be upgraded. Champ is clearly among Newbury horses to follow as he has the talent to go right to the very top over fences.
A relieved Hendserson earmarked the similar grade Dipper Novices’ Chase over the same trip at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day as his next target.
He plans to step Champ back up to 3m when tackling his ultimate long-term target – the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Champ has firmed up with bookmakers for that Grade 1 contest. Should all go to plan, he’s going to be very tough to beat.
Paisley Park lands Long Distance Hurdle
Stayers’ Hurdle hero Paisley Park looked as good as ever when making a winning return to action in the 3m Long Distance Hurdle and is all the rage to retain his crown at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival as a result.
The Emma Lavelle trained seven-year-old, who landed the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last season en route to enjoying his finest hour at the Cheltenham Festival, is now unbeaten in his last six outings.
After racing far more keenly in the early stages than usual, the Andrew Gemmell owned son of Oscar was eased into contention rounding the home turn by Aidan Coleman.
He loomed up going ominously well, but so did 2015 Long Distance Hurdle winner Thistlecrack under Tom Scudamore.
The pair raced wide apart approaching the last, at which point both jockeys had yet to ask their mounts a serious question.
Coleman was the first to make a move, but as his want, Paisley Park took a bit of time to hit top stride.
However, when he did, the result never looked in doubt as he powered home to score by a length from Colin Tizzard’s 2016 World Hurdle winner.
It was ultimately as most taking success, especially as Paisley Park hag to give the classy runner-up 6lb.
Lavelle is now planning to go down the same route to the Cheltenham Festival as last season with her stable star,.
That means a return to Ascot for the Long Walk Hurdle on December 21, followed by the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle on Festival Trials Day in January.
It’s going to take something special to lower his colours in those races and the Stayers’ Hurdle come March.
He is already considered a banker by many for the latter, and that tag looks fully justified.
Impressive mare Floressa among Newbury horses to follow
Floressa emerged as a leading commander for the Dawn Run – a novice hurdle for mares – at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival when putting in a near foot-perfect round of jumping to resume winning ways in a Listed 2m contest on Saturday.
Having gone down by a short head to Silver Forever here last time out, the four-year-old Seven Barrows inmate gained revenge on that Paul Nicholls trained rival in no uncertain fashion by adding to her debut victory over hurdles at Worcester.
After jumping slickly throughout on the heels of the leaders, Floressa move effortlessly into contention to challenge going strongly under Nico de Boinville after jumping two out.
She was then ridden to take up the running at the last and found plenty on the run-in to comfortably fend off the challenge of Irish raider Jeremys Flame by 1 1/2 lengths.
The front two pulled 3 1/2 lengths clear of the third home Silver Forever, so that gives the form a solid look.
As the runner-up had previously run well to finish a 1 1/2 lengths runner-up to the highly-regarded Daylight Katie in a Grade 3 at Down Royal, it was a smart performance from Floressa to readily dispose of that rival.
There was simply nothing not to like about the way in which the daughter of Poliglote got the job done.
She is clearly progressing with each outing and remains with bags of untapped potential.
Floressa has now had three quick races, so handler Henderson plans to give her a well-earned break before deciding where to go next.
He did confirm that the Dawn Run would be her target, so it’s therefore somewhat surprising that she can still be backed at double figure odds for that Grade 2 contest.
Son Of Camas another exciting prospect for Henderson
Henderson also has another exciting sort and one of our Newbury horses to follow on his hands in the shape of Son Of Camas.
He made a most taking debut over the obstacles when landing a 2m maiden hurdle.
This four-year-old failed to live up to expectations in his sole start last season when sent off 2/1 favourite and beaten out of sight when last of 19 to Festival D’ex in a Punchestown Festival bumper.
However, that run was too bad to be true. Son Of Camas duly showed it to be all wrong when making a winning return to action in a bumper here when staying on strongly to score by two lengths.
It marked him out as one to keep onside when sent hurdling.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 29, 2019
That view was confirmed when Son Of Camas only had to be ridden out to readily account for the previously unbeaten and very highly-regarded King Roland by a length.
There were also some useful sorts in-behind, including the fourth home Ask for Glory who had last been seen in action in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival when sent off just 13/2 and finishing ninth of 14 to Envoi Allen in what is proving strong form.
This Newbury race is traditionally a strong affair which throws-up plenty more winners and Henderson saddled Buveur D’Air to land the 2015 running of it.
At the time, the subsequent dual Champion Hurdle winner carried the colours of Sullivan Bloodstock – and they also own Son Of Camas.
Buveur D’Air also went on to finish a cracking third that season to stable companion Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and that looks the obvious long-term target for Son Of Camas.
One For The Team a handicapper among Newbury horses to follow
Although One For The Team didn’t win a typically fierce renewal of the 3m handicap hurdle, he shaped as if ahead of his mark and looks a winner in waiting.
Trained by Nick Williams, this lightly-raced five-year-old went down all guns blazing when a neck second of 18 to the rejuvenated Champers On Ice.
The son of Shirocco tracked the leaders going nicely on the inside under 5lb claimer Chester Williams, but showed signs of inexperience at several obstacles which cost him vital ground.
However, One For The Team had little difficulty making up the lost leeway and closed up going well two from home.
It was at this point that the winner, who made all, kicked clear under a positive ride from Tom Scudamore.
That resulted in One For The Team playing catch-up at a vital stage, so it was to his credit that he stayed on powerfully to be gaining hand over fist at the finish.
He was arguably an unlucky loser and, without being too critical of his young rider, could have done with stronger handling.
It was still a fine effort on just his fourth start over hurdles off an opening handicap mark of 126.
Although One For The Team will probably go up 4lbs for it, he still looks to have plenty score going forward from a handicapping perspective.
There are races, and a big pot, to be won with him and Williams has an excellent record with the small team that he goes to war with at the Cheltenham Festival.
Whichever race he turns up in next March (it could well be the 2m 5f Coral Cup – a Grade 3 handicap hurdle), One For The Team is certainly on to be interested in.