Ian Ogg selects five eyecatchers from the Hennessy Gold Cup meeting at Newbury.
By Ian Ogg. Last Updated: 02/12/12 4:01pm
Puffin Billy: A hugely impressive winner at Newbury
Kruzhlinin was the winner of two hurdle races for Nigel Twiston-Davies before the Million In Mind owned horse changed hands for 80,000 guineas in May and it looks money well spent.
It's no surprise that his previous connections expected him to make up into a better chaser than hurdler and he built on his debut win at Carlisle when finishing second on Thursday.
It looked a warm race beforehand with five of the six runners having won their previous starts and the first two pulled nicely clear.
Kruzhlinin has already won over two miles five and looked desperately in need of a stiffer test of stamina which is no surprise with his previous connections describing him as a galloper.
He has started his handicap career from a very workable mark, shouldn't go up too much in the weights for this effort and can continue to progress once stepped up in trip while it's worth remembering that connections believe he'll be better suited by better ground.
The one horse in the line-up who didn't win last time out was Celtus and he was beaten over 14 lengths.
At first glance there's nothing too promising about this effort or, indeed, the profile of Nicky Henderson's charge who has proved hugely disappointing since arriving from France.
However, this rates a significant improvement from his reappearance at Ffos Las and there was enough in this run to suggest that it's too early to give up on him just yet.
He looks dangerously well handicapped if connections have found the key to him and his progress is worth monitoring for the remainder of the season.
A starting price of 66-1 suggests that little was expected from Should I Stay in the CSP Novices' Handicap Hurdle and, at first glance, it would appear he didn't disappoint in pulling up before the last.
The French import was having his first run for Tom George and is a fine, scopey individual who was turned out in terrific conditions, winning the best turned out award.
The pace may only have been steady in the testing conditions but he was still in touch with the leaders between four and three out before tiring and did enough to believe that there are races to be won with him.
Having failed to win in five starts over hurdles and one over fences in France, there are no shortage of options open to him although his build suggests that chasing will be his game.
This half-brother to the useful Polisky looks capable of paying his way at a modest level.
Frisco Depot comes with clear risks attached after pulling up in the Hennessy Gold Cup with the ex-Irish performer set to have his wind examined having weakened quickly.
If connections can rectify the problem, they clearly have a promising individual on their hands as the eight year old travelled noticeably well until falling on debut for the yard at Ascot and again at Newbury despite making some early mistakes.
Although he's won under testing conditions, he looks better suited to racing on a faster surface so it could be a blessing in disguise if a minor operation (if that's what he needs) keeps him on the sidelines during the worst of the winter.
Charlie Longsdon had been hopeful of a big run on Saturday so clearly believes that he's got a well handicapped horse on his hands and it would be no surprise to see the Kings Theatre gelding pick up a big prize in the spring.
With two of the above having failed to complete and another seemingly regressive Puffin Billy is included as a horse who should reap more immediate rewards.
There were any number of impressive winning performances but none more so than that produced by Oliver Sherwood's charge in the Inkerman London National Hunt Maiden Hurdle.
Regarded as the best prospect that the Lambourn handler has had for many a year, the four year old didn't disappoint on his hurdling bow having won two bumpers by wide margins.
An attempt to devalue the form could be made with a 150-1 shot chasing him home and his main market rival failing to live up to expectations but it was hard not to be impressed with the manner of his victory.
He tanked through the early stages of the contest and it seemed impossible that he'd have anything left at the business end as a result but he still only needed to be shaken up to win on the bit and it will be desperately disappointing if he can't make his mark at a higher level.