'Espoir' lands Limerick pot for Cromwell
After Buveur D'Air's defeat in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, the Champion Hurdle needs a new contender to breathe some life into it, and an early hopeful might be Espoir D'Allen which recorded an impressive success in the Grade Three Irish Independent Hurdle at Limerick.
Gavin Cromwell's charge took on Stormy Ireland and Triumph Hurdle hero Farclas here, but it was a race marred by the early fall of Farclas, which left his rider Jamie Codd being taken to hospital with suspected rib injuries.
Espoir D'Allen and Jody McGarvey tracked 4/6 hotpot Stormy Ireland after that, and having been ridden for a couple of strides, the manner in which the JP McManus-owned gelding picked up and went past her was that of a decent animal.
Cromwell was reluctant to be drawn into whether he might be a horse for the Champion Hurdle this season, remarking: "That was good. We had him in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown and decided to come here because it looked the easier option, but then it turned into a very good race!"
He added: "For 50 or a hundred yards he looked like he was in a small bit of bother but then when he got going he was good. He seems to be growing up. I'll chat to Frank (Berry) and JP, but I wouldn't be in any hurry with him. I think next season is really going to be his."
What a mesmerising run of form Henry de Bromhead is in at present and he looks to have another nice prospect on his hands in Cobbler's Way.
The Gigginstown-owned son of Oscar made all under Barry O'Neill to win the bumper with a deal in hand. "I knew the horse from when he was with us in Colin Bowe's yard as a young horse and we always liked him. He's about 17 hands and Henry has done a great job with him," said O'Neill. "He loves soft ground and is a smashing chaser in the making."
Willie Mullins and Paul Townend suffered another odds-on reversal with Annamix to Jessica Harrington's Press Conference (3/1) in the maiden hurdle, but the pair's Redhotfillypeppers justified 6/4 favouritism in the novice chase.