Five horses who caught the eye in defeat at Newbury and Fairyhouse

By Tom Thurgood@tdthurgood
Mon 2 Dec 2019

Not a bad weekend, was it?

The Ladbrokes Trophy provided the crowning moment of a fantastic few days for trainer Emma Lavelle after the triumphant return of Paisley Park on Friday.

In early December, Lavelle is well on course for a best-ever campaign in terms of prize money and the trainer is also on course to surpass her record 42 winners set in the 2011-2012 season, with 19 achieved already.

In addition to Paisley Park and De Rasher Counter, Lavelle’s Grade Two scorer Hang In There looks a highly-promising novice and her Highly Prized struck in the style of a progressive handicap hurdler at Huntingdon a few weeks ago. These are exciting times for her yard.

Sunday’s stellar card at Fairyhouse also delivered.

Envoi Allen was the star act, but Samcro provided one of the biggest talking points. But for splaying on landing at the second-last, would he have won the Drinmore?

One thing you would say is that while his clever, measured and accurate jumping was just the ticket on chase debut, you’d like to see him take a bit more of a cut at his fences and you could see Jack Kennedy having to squeeze him on landing in order to keep up with Fakir D’Oudairies on a few occasions.

The four-year-old is almost the opposite in jumping style, galloping and searching for the next fence to soar over, quick in the air and scooting away each time.

Perhaps it’s unfair to judge Samcro too harshly on just his second chasing start and against a potentially top-class two-mile chaser of the future, but his manner over fences so far would just leave a small question at this stage, although most encouragingly he looks over the issues which blighted his campaign last term.

With all the action at Newbury and Fairyhouse in mind, here are five horses who caught the eye in defeat. Don’t forget, you can watch all the racing action again for free every day in our results and replay section here.


Third in the Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse.

Tremwedge had a pretty undistinguished Flat career but built on his debut third over jumps last month with another third on this steep rise in class behind two well-above average prospects in Cerberus and A Wave Of The Sea.

He was notably keen and bungled the last and this form has substance, the well-regarded Saint D’Oroux and previous winner Dinard Rose both being behind. So this does not look a fluke, despite the 25-1 starting price.

Ex Patriot was a smart juvenile for the yard a few seasons ago and, while Tremwedge doesn’t look quite that class, the Boodles at the Cheltenham festival appeals as long-term target.


Second in the INH Flat Race at Fairyhouse.

You feel somewhat fraudulent putting up a vanquished 8-11 favourite and Champion Bumper jolly in an eye-catchers column, but Ferny Hollow did well to finish as close as he did here and he still rates an exciting prospect.

The expensive purchase stretched the arms of Patrick Mullins for the entire duration of the contest and the four-year-old also looked green when asked for his finishing effort in the closing stages.

While he needs to settle better, he’d only raced in a point beforehand and he has particularly good scope for improvement. Ante-post punters shouldn’t be tearing up their tickets just yet.


Seventh in the Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase at Newbury.

The 126-rated chaser was patiently ridden by Johnny Burke and made nice headway down the back and into the straight. In a finish dominated by the handier runners, his earlier exertions told.

This Class Two contest was Minella For Me’s biggest assignment so far and he shaped better than the margin of over 16 lengths in defeat.

The nine-year-old was entitled to need this effort, too, after a break of more than six months.

He’s not a world-beater, but is lightly-raced and with more prominent tactics in lesser company he’s entitled to go well in his next few starts, particularly if his rating drops to around 120.


Sixteenth in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

Elegant Escape arguably caught the eye most in the prestigious handicap, running on for a fine third after being fourteenth on the turn for home.

Two Taffs also confirmed the impression of a highly positive Wetherby run last time, creeping into the race nicely and leaving the back straight in encouraging fashion but emptying quickly before the third-last, clearly betrayed by lack of stamina.

The pick of his form lies at the intermediate trip and he will be dropped for this. He looks particularly interesting for spring handicaps from a mark around the 140s on favoured better ground.


Fourth in the Download The App Handicap Hurdle.

Third on stable debut in the Boodles at Cheltenham last March, the four-year-old shaped well here in a competitive handicap and he will improve for the run.

His jumping was a bit scratchy but perhaps things were happening a bit too quickly for him on his return as he rattled home to nearly snatch an unlikely-looking third on the short run from the final flight.

A good prospect for novice hurdles, it’s notable the champion trainer ran him in this €100,000 prize for his comeback from a mark of 134.

He’s one to note in similarly valuable prizes, even from a slightly higher rating.

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