The jump season got back under way at Chepstow last weekend, with Philip Hobbs returning to form with victory in both Graded races at the two-day meeting.
Orbys Legend was the star of the show on Saturday as he powered home to win the Grade Three Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle for Tom O’Brien, after Hobbs secured a Persian War one-two on Friday with Luttrell Lad following home easy winner Camprond under Aidan Coleman.
As well as the success of the Minehead-based trainer, plenty of other horses came out of the Jump Season Opener with credit – here’s five names that could be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses.
Pikar (Dan Skelton)
Knappers Hill was arguably the talking horse of the entire Friday card, having won a Grade Two bumper at Aintree last season for Paul Nicholls.
Harry Cobden’s mount would get the job done by a length in the opening novice hurdle, but it isn’t just the hot favourite who looks to have a bright future.
Pikar was held up in the rear before making smooth headway and challenging Knappers Hill all the way up the straight before going down narrowly, losing his fore right shoe in the process and looks certain to land a similar novice before moving up the ranks for the Skelton team.
Our 7 winners from last week with Team Hobbs in the yard this morning:
From left to right: Camprond & Zara, Iberio & Lisa, Guernsey & Sean, Canastero & Joe, Orbys Legend & Louisa, Little River Bay & Emily, Masters Legacy & Holly 🏇🏾😃🏆 pic.twitter.com/sjo2RzmrrY
— Philip Hobbs Racing (@PJHobbs1) October 11, 2021
Nina The Terrier (Alan King)
The five-year-old mare landed Friday’s penultimate mares’ novice hurdle under a penalty for Tom Bellamy and Alan King by four-and-a-quarter lengths, although she was value for a fair bit more than the winning margin.
Nina The Terrier cruised into contention between the final two hurdles before sweeping past Dan Skelton’s Runwiththetide with ease despite giving away nine pounds to her market rival and clearly looks an above average type.
Expect to see her in a decent novice event in the coming weeks, especially if the ground stays on the good side.
Allmankind (Dan Skelton)
Dual Grade One winner Allmankind might have looked a little underwhelming on seasonal reappearance but the Skelton team will have no doubt taken many positives from the five-year-old’s run in the Geoffrey Broomhall Memorial Handicap Hurdle on Saturday.
He travelled strongly before being headed at the last and being beaten just over a length by Masters Legacy for the in-form Philip Hobbs team, but showed clear signs that he has lost none of his appetite for the game and will surely improve for his return to the larger obstacles.
He looks set to take in the Grade Two Old Roan Chase at Aintree later this month and should be cherry ripe for that assignment.
Fidelio Vallis (Paul Nicholls)
Fidelio Vallis may not have won the Listed Dunraven Windows Novices’ Chase, but he is a candidate for the best jumping display of the weekend with a bold front-running effort.
The six-year-old put in a flawless round but couldn’t quite hold off the threat of highly-rated chase debutant Tea Clipper, who pulled away to win by three lengths in impressive fashion.
He has progressed in less-competitive summer meetings in recent months but has already won a soft ground novice hurdle at Wincanton and could be set for a return to the Somerset venue on Badger Beers Chase Day next month, alongside exciting Grade One-winning novice chaser and stablemate Bravemansgame.
Great Heart’Jac (Fergal O’Brien)
The six-year-old had some decent bumper form coming into his seasonal reappearance but looked to have considerably improved at Chepstow on Saturday when finishing a good second to odds-on favourite Timeforatune in the concluding bumper, possibly just being outstayed after travelling best of all into the straight.
Great Heart’Jac looks to still have a bit of maturing to do but can land a similar bumper before going novice hurdling at some point during the winter for Fergal O’Brien who had an excellent weekend, with Paint The Dream landing the John Ayres Memorial Handicap Chase and Valentino Dancer finishing a narrow second in the Geoffrey Broomhall Memorial Handicap Hurdle.