A HAT-TRICK IS VERY MUCH ON THE CARDS FOR XPO UNIVERSEL
(Wincanton, 6 December)
Sixth in the Listed bumper at Cheltenham in mid-November, Danse Idol made an immediate impact on her hurdling debut for Highclere Thoroughbreds.
Under a positive ride from Harry Cobden, Danse Idol was eyeballed a few times by her rivals but shrugged off their challenges with some aplomb.
The Paul Nicholls-trained mare clearly appreciated the step up to 2m 5f and this was a very polished performance.
(Sandown, 7 December)
Colin Tizzard’s five-year-old has found Grade 2 company a shade too hot to handle since enjoying a 17 lengths romp at Fontwell in October, getting chopped for speed behind Coolanly at Cheltenham last month before a battling second to Alsa Mix in this 2m 4f novice hurdle.
Darlac helped force the pace throughout but his goose looked well and truly cooked when swallowed up early in the straight.
To his credit, Darlac dug deep up the Sandown hill, suggesting stamina will be his forte in due course.
(Wetherby, 8 December)
Two miles over hurdles was never going to be a sufficient test for Sue Smith’s gelding but Wakanda moved well until the pace quickened off the home bend, eventually finishing fifth to the rallying Aristo Du Plessis.
Wakanda enjoyed a productive time over fences last season, highlighted by his defeat of last Saturday’s Aintree scorer Warriors Tale in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, and this will have put him straight for a similar winter campaign.
(Sandown, 8 December)
Reversed previous course form with third-placed Totterdown but couldn’t cope with Man Of Plenty in this Listed hurdle.
Still only a five-year-old, Nelson’s Touch recorded victories at Taunton and Uttoxeter earlier in the year and Seamus Mullins is entitled to feel bullish about the gelding’s future prospects.
(Chepstow, 8 December)
Travelled strongly early in the straight but Nicky Martin’s gelding wasn’t suited by what became a war of attrition in the mud down Chepstow’s daunting straight, fading quite badly into fourth spot behind red-hot favourite Young Bull.
Poison Arrow had also encountered heavy ground when runner-up at Newton Abbot in October and may well improve given a sounder surface.
(Kelso, 9 December)
Replicated his powerful performance when scoring at Carlisle the previous week, pulling clear for a bloodless victory.
The Rebecca Menzies-trained gelding was once again always to the fore under 7lb claimer Aaron Anderson, who was also seen to good effect on Wetherby winner Tomkevi the previous day.
A hat-trick is very much on the cards for Xpo Universel.