Messire Des Obeaux looked a serious contender for the Cheltenham Festival when winning at Sandown at the beginning of the month and can further enhance his credentials with victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury.
Live on Sky Racing, the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle always produces some exceptional young hurdling talent and at the four-day declaration stage this year’s renewal looks no different. The Alan King-trained Messire Des Obeaux really catches the eye having recently produced a great late surge in the Grade 2 Winter Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown to deny last season’s Champion Bumper winner Ballyandy in a thrilling finish. The Winter Hurdle looked another strong renewal and has twice produced the winner of the Challow in recent years with both Fingal Bay (2011) and Taquin Du Seuil (2012) having stepped up successfully.
In the long-term Messire Des Obeaux should be a serious contender for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle in March where, on the evidence of his Sandown win, the famous Cheltenham hill should bring his stamina into the equation. The four-year-old ran a good race on just his second start since moving from France for Alan King in last season’s Fred Winter at the Festival where the two miles proved just on the sharp side and has stepped up nicely this campaign with an easy Bangor handicap win before his latest Sandown success. Lightly-raced, there looks significant improvement to come from the four-year-old and with the Challow being a Grade 1 he will avoid having to shoulder a penalty.
The Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle headlines an excellent seven-race-card from Newbury on Saturday night.