The last weekend in November saw Newbury and Fairyhouse racecourses play host to lots of high class National Hunt action. Progeny of KALANISI performed with huge credit in defeat in three of the feature races.
First into action was last year’s Grade 1 winning novice chaser KALASHNIKOV. He carried top weight in the feature race on the Friday of Newbury’s three day festival, a 2m4f £50,000 Handicap Chase. Having took the lead after the final fence, the Sunnyhill Stud bred gelding looked set for a heroic victory with 11st12lbs on his back but he was nabbed on the line by Oldgrangewood who was carrying 20lbs less. This was an excellent weight carrying performance and resulted in his handicap mark rising 6lbs to 161. Kalashnikov is a credit to Amy Murphy and her team as he has never finished out of the first two in 13 completed starts.
Next to feature was the David Bridgewater trained THE CONDITIONAL in the feature of the 3 day Newbury Winter Festival, the £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy Handicap Chase. Having won his initial outing for Bridgewater at Cheltenham’s October meeting, The Conditional crept in at the bottom of the weights off a career high mark of 137. Travelling and jumping well under Brendan Powell, the 7 year old tracked the eventual winner from 3 out and unfortunately made a slight mistake at the last. He stayed gamely though and was only beaten 1 1/2 lengths at the line. It was a hugely encouraging run from the Brendan Ferris bred horse who amazingly is still a maiden over fences. Formerly trained by Martin Hassett in Ireland, The Conditional is now rated 142 and looks set for an exciting season ahead.
Last but not least to represent KALANISI was the Gavin Cromwell trained Darver Star who produced a career best effort to finish a staying on 3rd in the 2 mile Grade 1 Bar-One Racing Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse. Having recorded his 5th win of 2019 in a Listed event in Limerick in October, Darver Star was stepping up into open graded company for the first time. Travelling well throughout the race, Darver Star lost some valuable momentum coming to the 2nd last which halted his progress for a few strides and the eventual 1st and 2nd Envoi d’Allen and Abacadabras got first run on him. Darver Star narrowed the gap from here to the line though and was only beaten 4 lengths by an exciting horse. Owned by the SSP syndicate from County Louth which features the horses’ co-breeders Pat Cluskey and Sean Fanning, Darver Star has risen from a mark of 104 at the start of the year to a current mark of 146! Unfortunately, having won his maiden hurdle in April he is no longer a novice but connections are sure to have some lofty targets in mind for their pride and joy over the coming months.