Betfred Goals Galore Challow Novices' Hurdle
|Grade 1, Newbury 13:50
£40,000 added, 4yo plus,
2m 4f 118y, Class 1
|Saturday 29th December 2016|
1 Messire Des Obeaux 100/30
2 Baltazar D'Allier 9/2
3 Ami Desbois 14/1
8 ran Distances: 2l, 4½l, ½l
TIME 4m 57.70s (slow by 8.70s)
Alan King's Messire Des Obeaux took the step up in class in his stride with a two-length victory under Daryl Jacob, who had last tasted Challow success aboard Reve De Sivola in 2009.
The 100/30 winner overcame a mistake at the final flight of hurdles to win well from Gordon Elliott's challenger Balthazar D'Allier (9/2), with Ami Desbois staying on to fill out the places at 14/1, just ahead of Elegant Escape.
The race had been run at a furious pace from the start with Major Mac and Adrian Heskin thrilling his long-odds supporters for a long way before giving way in the home straight.
There was disappointment, however, for favourite-backers as the heavily supported Aintree maiden scorer Robin Roe took a crashing fall at the first hurdle in the straight, taking off a stride soon and giving Harry Skelton no chance of rescuing the situation.
Winning trainer King said: "He travelled really well. Last time was probably the first time he's had to battle and I think he learnt a great deal from it. I was hopeful he'd run well but I wasn't confident he'd win so I'm delighted.
"He pricked his ears after the last, but hopefully if something had come at him he'd have gone again. He travelled really well and was making ground down the back at his hurdles.
"In terms of staying novice hurdlers he's up there with the best we've got."
Messire Des Obeaux was cut to 10/1 from 16/1 by Sky Bet for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and 12/1 from 20s for the three-mile Albert Bartlett after his Newbury victory and representative Michael Shinners: "There's loads to like about this horse, who seems to be getting better and better with experience.
"He travels and clearly stays well so the King team have a lot to look forward to and the difficulty for bookmakers and punters alike is trying to pinpoint at this stage which race he may end up contesting at the Festival."
Asked about a likely Cheltenham Festival target, King politely but firmly said he'd "like to enjoy today first" which seemed fair enough. After all, this was a second Grade One victory of the season and, more remarkably, a win which took him past last season's tally of 68 victories and firmly on track for his best season since an impressive 138 winners in 2008/9.
King has always preferred to look to the future rather than dwell too much on the past and has never made any secret of the hopes he holds for this horse as a potential steeplechaser.
"It will be up to the owners, Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, and their racing manager Anthony Bromley, who is never short of an opinion, but I imagine the plan will be to have another run before Cheltenham, possibly on Trials Day there at the end of January, and at the end of this season we will have a clearer idea as to when he might go over fences," he said.
"However good he proves to be over hurdles, however, I think he could be better as a chaser.
"I don't think he has got the brilliance of Yanworth, but he is a decent horse and is still learning as well. I'm sure he will stay three miles too, but there's no rush to find out quite yet - I imagine he'll be entered in the Albert Bartlett and the Neptune and we'll see."
Reflecting upon the season so far, King said: "There's no doubt it's been a good one and we are well ahead of where we have been at this stage for the last couple of years. There has been no major change, although we did run more in the summer and we had more winners as a consequence.
"The main thing is the horses. They're healthy, touch wood, and have been holding their form."
As for Yanworth, the winner of the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton and now firmly on track for the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, King said: "Going into the race, I thought we might be in trouble at that track and on that ground, but he impressed me and I hope he's just still improving."
Meanwhile, Gordon Elliott, a rare visitor to Newbury, drew a blank on the day but was nevertheless satisfied with the effort of the runner-up, who was having just the second start of his life.
"I am very happy as he is a big, weak horse and I imagine you won't see a lot more of him this season," he said.
"Barry (Geraghty) said he gave him a nice spin and said that he was just a bit inexperienced."
Betfred Goals Galore Challow Novices' Hurdle
£40,000 added, 4yo plus, 2m 4f 118y, Class 1
Going: Good to soft, soft in places
|Pos||D||Horse SP||Jockey Weight||Trainer||Age|
|1st||Messire Des Obeaux (FR) 10/3||D A Jacob
|2nd||2||Baltazar D'allier (FR) 9/2||B J Geraghty
|3rd||4½||Ami Desbois (FR) 14/1||Kielan Woods
|4th||½||Elegant Escape (IRE) 8/1||T J O'Brien
|C L Tizzard||4|
|5th||3¾||Major Mac 100/1||A P Heskin
|6th||14||Cultivator 9/1||N D Fehily
|N J Henderson||5|
|7th||24||Peak To Peak (IRE) 20/1||Sam Twiston-Davies
|P F Nicholls||4|
|F||Robin Roe (IRE) 7/4f||Harry Skelton