Last season’s Gold Cup third Road To Riches took his first steps on the way back to Cheltenham with a commanding victory in the Clonmel Oil Chase on Thursday.
For a good ground horse he excelled on the sticky terrain and under a confident Bryan Cooper ride he certainly took no prisoners.
While the Durkan and the King George are options depending on which way Gigginstown shuffle the deck, it’s more likely he’ll bid to retain his Lexus crown at Leopardstown at Christmas.
Bright New Dawn is now with Gordon Elliott and ran a good race in second and probably needs a longer trip.
In contrast Mallowney, having travelled well throughout – not least when going second three out – folded very quickly at the business end.
He finished tailed off and quite clearly two miles is his trip.
I must say I was surprised to read trainer Tim Doyle’s assertion that he has to have soft ground, the softer the better.
That certainly wasn’t obvious last year, when he won at the Punchestown Festival on very decent ground, in fact the cross country was good to firm the same day.
That was sandwiched between two fine efforts at Fairyhouse and back at Punchestown where he again looked very comfortable on a good to fast surface.
The jury is out on Felix Yonger. True, the ground wasn’t ideal and like quite a few of the Willie Mullins team lately he was possibly in need of the run.
Always highly regarded, he was a bit of a slow burner early doors, but he clearly meant business when running up a sequence in the second half of last season.
That was topped off in style by victory in the Boylesports Champion Stakes at Punchestown.
While that might flatter him slightly, he is certainly greatly improved and a near 50% strike rate is not to be sneezed at.
Whether he’s part of the Closutton “A team” however remains to be seen, but of course standards are pretty high in that department.
While cross country racing has yet to really catch fire for many racing people, yesterday’s Glenfarclas at Cheltenham was simply dripping with drama.
Not least the winner, the heavily backed 11/4 jolly Josies Orders.
Quite how Nina Carberry stayed on board – and the horse stayed on his feet – six out is scarcely believable.
That great veteran Uncle Junior slipped up here when travelling as good as any.
Sire Collonges slipped on the bend turning for home which hampered Dogora who later parted company with Katie Walsh at the last when possibly unsighted by the low lying sun.
We all love drama of course – once horse and rider both stride away unhurt.
But there does seem to be a lot of horses slipping up in these kind of races.
Are there perhaps too many sharp turns and could movable plastic running rails be used more for guidance?
Josies Orders is trained by the absolute master of this type of event Enda Bolger and is owned by J P McManus.
He finally reeled in Any Currency who had to concede 23 lbs., while Bless The Wings and long time leader Valadom also ran with great credit, finishing third and fourth.
McManus certainly had much to enthuse over yesterday as last years Ladbrokes World Hurdle hero More Of That made a slick winning start over fences.
Barry Geraghty, who was aboard when he beat Annie Power in that Ladbroke World in 2014, was certainly well pleased yesterday.
A breathing operation seems to have worked wonders for a horse that we were starting to wonder about, and it should be onwards and upwards for Jonjo O’Neill’s fledgling chaser now.
Back next Saturday.