November 9, 2010 Leave a comment
The Grade 2 Lismullen Hurdle ran last weekend at Navan saw a good race take place, but the outcome gave very few clues as to likely success stories for the Cheltenham Festival. The race was won by the Thomas Mullins trained, Oscar Dan Dan, but the manner of victory left a little to be desired, particularly as he had looked like losing until the 7/4 race favourite, Aitmatov fell at the last.
Oscar Dan Dan always seems to run well at this time of the year but it is not sure whether he will be challenging yet for honours at Cheltenham although he does hold an entry for the Grade 1, World Hurdle, a race where he finished in 6th place in 2009, 18 lengths behind winner, Big Bucks. To date that run was his only attempt for Cheltenham glory.
His next race will almost certainly be the Grade 1 Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in early December, a race he won last year by a neck from Ninetieth Minute after finishing extremely strongly and a race that has proven a good guide for Cheltenham in the past, boasting such outstanding winners as Brave Inca and Istabraq.
Aitmatov, who won this race in 2009 has never really fulfilled his promise becoming more synonymous with inconsistency more than winning races. He has had plenty of chances over the years but like Oscar Dan Dan his one attempt at the Cheltenham Festival, finishing sixth behind the formidable Inglis Drever in the 2008 World Hurdle. His biggest success to date in a long career was his win in the 2007 Hatton’s Grace.
Second home on Sunday was the Edward O’Grady trained, Jumbo Rio, who ran with some promise, but seemed to find the 2 mile four furlong trip on the difficult side. However he is only a 5 year old and will improve as the season progresses. He was aimed at the Champion Hurdle last year at Cheltenham, but was outclassed, finishing down the field, 23 lengths adrift of the winner, Binocular.
Binocular and Big Bucks are still to make their seasonal reappearances but both are antepost favourites for their Cheltenham targets, the Champion Hurdle and World Hurdle respectively. Binocular is likely to be first seen this season in the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle at the end of November, while Big Bucks is likely to follow the same pattern as last season and be aimed at the Grade 2 Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, also at the end of November.