Messire Des Obeaux shows real promise in superb Newbury run
Alan King is already dreaming of what Messire Des Obeaux may do over fences next season after he ran out a comprehensive winner of the Betfred Challow Novices' Hurdle at Newbury.
Having made a winning reappearance in a Bangor handicap before claiming a Grade Two prize at Sandown, King's charge was chasing a hat-trick in this Grade One event, which has been won in the past by the likes of Denman and Grand National hero Bindaree.
The 100-30 chance travelled powerfully throughout the two-mile-five-furlong contest in the hands of Daryl Jacob and cruised to the lead between the final two flights as pacesetting outsider Major Mac began to falter.
Gordon Elliott's Irish challenger Baltazar D'Allier emerged as a threat jumping the final obstacle, but Messire Des Obeaux kept up the gallop to score by two lengths.
Baltazar D'Allier was far from disgraced in second, making just his second appearance under rules after winning at Naas, with Ami Desbois third.
Robin Roe, the 7-4 favourite, was given an ultra-confident ride by Harry Skelton and was still last turning for home. The Dan Skelton-trained gelding was just beginning to make his move when he came to grief at the third-last.
King said: "Last time was the first time he had to battle and I'm sure they learn from that. He has improved a lot for it. I was delighted with him today.
"He pricked his ears after the last, but hopefully if something had come at him he'd have gone again. He travelled really well and was making ground down the back at his hurdles.
"I felt it was one of the best Challow Hurdles we've seen for some time. I was hopeful he'd run well, but I certainly wasn't confident he'd win.
"I've said all year I can't wait to see him over fences next season, but he is not doing too badly over hurdles. He might well go to Cheltenham at the end of January for trials day.
"I'm sure Anthony Bromley [owners' racing manager] will have a fair idea of where we should be going now, we'll speak to him and Simon [Munir] and Isaac [Souede] and make a decision.
"I see no reason to go up in trip with him - there is no doubt in the future he will get three miles, but two and a half is ideal for him at this stage.
"I still think this horse is all about next year and this year is a bonus. I can't wait until he sees a fence in a year's time.
"Of the staying ones (novice hurdlers), he'd be as good as we've got I think, but I hope he's got a big future as well."
He added: "I don't think he has got the brilliance of Yanworth, but he is a decent horse and is still learning as well.
"I'd imagine he'll have entries in those [Albert Bartlett and Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle].
"It's a nice problem to have."
Elliott said of the JP McManus-owned runner-up: "I am very happy. He is a big, weak horse and I imagine you won't see a lot more of him this season.
"Barry [Geraghty] said he gave him a nice spin and said that he was just a bit inexperienced."
Meanwhile, Jessica Harrington revealed that her Grade One-placed novice hurdler Sunni May has died of a heart attack.
The five-year-old won his maiden at Cork in November before taking a novice event at Punchestown and most recently finished third at Leopardstown to Saturnas in the Future Champions Novice Hurdle.
Harrington, speaking after the victory of Supasundae at Punchestown, said: "The bad news is that Sunni May has died of a heart attack. He just went out yesterday for a short canter and had only gone about 150 yards when it happened."
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