The very exciting Ahoy Senor
The very exciting Ahoy Senor

Newbury Paddock Notes: Ahoy Senor lights up Newbury

Our man at the track David Cleary with his observations from Newbury's two-day meeting - Ahoy Senor the horse exciting him most.

Senor leaves lasting impression

Every once in a while, you see a performance on the racecourse which leaves you buzzing for days. As I write, it's not quite 24 hours since the event, but I am certain Ahoy Senor's victory in the John Francome Novices' Chase at Newbury will prove one of those. Denmanesque would not be overstating the impression made.

Ahoy Senor is a real powerhouse, and his physique, as well as his ability and the manner in which he won the Sefton back in the spring, made clear why connections would bring him down from Scotland, rather than seek an easier option close to home – he's just built for a track like Newbury, with its long galloping straights and generous turns, a big horse for big fences.

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The John Francome was just the seventh start of his career, and he's clearly still a bit raw, an element of learning as he went along with his jumping, the water jump coming as a surprise, a tendency to go slightly right as much about correcting himself as a need to go the other way round.

Despite that, Ahoy Senor maintained a good gallop, which had two of his three opponents out of contention before the straight. The favourite Mr Incredible stalked him turning for home, but a bold leap four out took Ahoy Senor further clear and from there on there was only one outcome, 31 lengths the margin at the line.

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The Kauto Star is the obvious next option, and provided the ground is on the soft side, three miles at Kempton ought to bring Ahoy Senor's strengths fully into play. Less testing going might be a concern. So far as the season as a whole goes, he's very much top of the pecking order for staying novice chasers, in Britain anyway. Even further into the future, it would be great to see him back at Newbury for the Ladbrokes Trophy in twelve months' time.

Cloudy shines in wonderful Ladbrokes Trophy

The latest running of that great race was a wonderful spectacle, with jumping and stamina as ever crucial. The winner Cloudy Glen was one of just five in the field making his seasonal bow, but you wouldn't have known that looking at him beforehand, as he looked trained to the minute. He'd had a breathing operation since last seen – when running lamentably at the Grand National meeting – and looked transformed by it.

Ridden much more handily than had been the case when runner-up to Mount Ida at the Cheltenham Festival, Cloudy Glen travelled really well through the race before his stamina kicked in in the straight. His trainer was coy afterwards about the future, and, after all, why would you be thinking about the future, just seconds after winning a 142k pot?

The obvious answer to the question is surely the Grand National. Given how hard a race he had and how well he goes fresh – he won the Southern National on his return last season – a light campaign until Aintree is surely on the cards.

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Runner-up in Gold Cup picture

Emerging with at least as much credit, the runner-up Fiddlerontheroof produced easily his best performance, faced with the stiffest test of stamina of his career. He had the benefit of a run, but was conceding 10 lb to the winner. Three lengths down early on the run-in, he'd clawed back all but half a length by the winning post. It's an effort that puts him on the fringes of Gold Cup class and, if I were a rich man, I'd be considering an ante-post wager. With just a little more improvement, Fiddlerontheroof could topple the best.

There were two fallers that might have got in the shake-up had they completed. Enrilo, who was a bit on his toes beforehand and looked in tremendous nick, was going smoothly when he went departed in the back straight. That was too far out to say where he would have finished, but the way he went suggested a chaser still on the right side of the handicapper.

Remastered went at the fourth last, half-lengthed by the winner. He would surely have been involved in the finish from the way he was still travelling and there must be a good race with his name on it this winter. Beforehand, Remastered was on his toes as much as anything, despite being fitted with a red hood, a fad more associated with Newmarket-trained blue-bloods than seasoned chasers.

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Novices star on Friday

Friday's card saw two exciting novice hurdlers in action, Jonbon and Stage Star. Jonbon was sufficiently impressive in winning the two-mile maiden to go to the head of the market for the Supreme Novices'.

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He's all quality, as he should be for £570,000 of J.P. McManus's hard-earned, though I would be a little concerned that he might boil over faced with a crowd excited to be at its first Festival in two years. In the calmer waters of Newbury, close to home, Jonbon was geed up beforehand and had got warm by the time he got to the start.

Stage Star made less of an impression on the bookmakers so far as Cheltenham is concerned, but I think that position underrates his effort. True, he had the run of things, but I liked the way he went through the race and the manner in which he drew clear, and his jumping was slick, bar a mistake two out. The Challow Hurdle back at Newbury would seem the obvious place to go.

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