16.55 Punchestown: Beat That poised to follow-up
A cracking renewal of the Irish Daily Mirror Novices Hurdle, and the progressive Beat That looks the one they all have to beat.
The Nicky Henderson trained gelding created a big impression when sauntering clear to beat Champagne West by 10 lengths on his hurdling debut at Ascot, and then looked unlucky not to follow-up at Sandown.
The six-year-old cruised into contention two from home in the latter, and looked all over the winner until making a bad mistake at the last which stopped him in his tracks.
He kept on to be beaten 2 1/2 lengths by Killala Quay, but there is little doubt that Beat That would have collected if he hadn’t fluffed his lines at the final flight.
It was an effort which suggested that the son of Milan was an exciting prospect and he confirmed that impression with am impressive four length success in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle last time out at Aintree.
Held-up in midfield by Barry Geraghty, Beat That made smooth headway on the bridle two from home and overcame a mistake at that flight before stretching clear on the run-in to win with tons in hand from Cole Harden.
The pair finished 25 lengths clear of the third home Seeyouatmidnight, who was rated 155 going into the contest, and the form has a solid look to it.
Given that was just Beat That’s third run over the obstacles, there should be plenty more improvement left in the tank and he looks a most exciting prospcet who needs keeping firmly on side.
The Willie Mullins’ trained Don Poli looks the obvious danger.
The five-year-old completed the hat-trick in good style when running out the ready winner of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and is clearly improving at a rate of knots.
The Gigginstown House Stud-owned gelding had previously scored with plenty in hand in a Grade 3 contest at Clonmel, but this is his toughest task to date and unlike Beat That he does not have Grade 1 winning form in the book.
Very Wood, also owned by Gigginstown, is another major player in the contest after springing a surprise to win the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Noel Meade trained gelding was sent off 33/1, but there was no fluke about the win as he strode clear after the last to beat Deputy Dan by 4 1/2 lengths.
The five-year-old had one of today’s rivals, Apache Jack, a further short-head behind in third and there is no real reason why that one should turn the tables.
However, I am not convinced that this years renewal of the Albert Bartlett was the strongest and Very Wood will have to improve again if he is to lower the colours of Beat That.