Hiddenvalley Lake landed the Boyne Hurdle and Brighterdaysahead remains unbeaten in five after an exciting day at Navan; "We'll have a look at all the big festivals coming up and see what the options are," said Robbie Power about the former; American Mike also a winner on the card
Sunday 11 February 2024 17:25, UK
Hiddenvalley Lake and Brighterdaysahead could be heading to the Cheltenham Festival following Sunday wins at Navan, where American Mike also scored.
Henry de Bromhead's Hiddenvalley Lake had a good reputation as a novice hurdler but did not quite deliver at the highest level when ninth in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham last March. He started out over fences this time around and contested a beginners chase at this venue in December, where he fell three from home.
Subsequently switched back to hurdling, the seven-year-old always looked happy in the Grade Two William Hill Boyne Hurdle, as he travelled well under Darragh O'Keeffe.
Over the penultimate flight, he already looked the winner and from there he only strengthened his position to triumph by three-and-a-quarter lengths as the 3/1 favourite.
Robbie Power, racing manager to owners Robour, said: "It was a good performance. The plan was obviously to go chasing with him this year and he fell here in a beginners chase before Christmas.
"It took him a little bit of time to recover after that, and it was getting a bit late in the season, so we thought we'd come back over hurdles and then probably go chasing next season.
"He loves heavy ground and Darragh said the further he went, the better he jumped. When they stepped on the pace, he jumped better up the straight.
"We knew he'd stay well over that trip and that ground probably suited him as well. It's great to get that and we'll see where we go next.
"He stays three miles as well and we'll have a look at all the big festivals coming up and see what the options are.
"He's a fresh horse, he's only had the two runs and that's his first completed run this season."
American Mike came out on top after a good battle with Nick Rockett in the William Hill Ten Up Novice Chase at Navan.
Stepped up to three miles at Navan, the bay was a 7/2 chance under Jack Kennedy and travelled well throughout, jumping soundly on the whole and finding himself in the lead approaching the last.
From there, he seemed to dither slightly and it appeared that Willie Mullins' Nick Rockett might pass him, but as the two locked horns approaching the line, it was American Mike who eventually pulled away to win by a length and a quarter.
As a result of the victory, he was clipped from 33/1 to 20/1 for the Turners Novices' Chase with Betfair and from 25/1 to 12/1 for the same race with Coral.
Never miss a story with all the latest racing news, interviews and features on your phone. Find out more
"To be honest, he's probably one of the horses that makes me scratch my head more than any other. He keeps disappointing me and then he comes back with a good one again," said trainer Gordon Elliott.
"He has obviously got a big engine on his day, when he's right, but he's not easy to train. I thought Jack gave him a great ride.
"I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going with him, he's a horse that baffles me.
"He's in a few of the novice chases at Cheltenham and he could go for an Irish National. I don't know what I'm going to do with him, to be honest.
Elliott's Brighterdaysahead came into the Apple's Jade Mares Novice Hurdle unbeaten in four starts and was the 1/3 favourite stepping up in trip for the Listed heat over 2m 5f.
The extra distance clearly did not hinder her at all, however, as she travelled and jumped with ease throughout and was left to stroll home to a 12-length success under Kennedy.
Her odds have now been trimmed for the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, moving from 7/2 to 3/1 with Betfair and Coral.
"She's a good mare, a proper mare. She is very, very good, I don't say that about too many," said Elliott.
See the latest horse racing news, interviews and features from Sky Sports Racing
"Jack said he couldn't get a lead any longer on her and he said she wasn't doing a stroke in front.
"She'll come on from it too, as we missed a little bit of time with her - nothing serious, just niggly things.
"She's got a pedigree to be nice and her future is in front of her. She looks like a chaser.
"I'd say at the moment she doesn't want that far, she's got a bit of boot for a big mare, but we had nothing else to run her in because I missed her last engagement and I didn't want to go to England with her."