Eldar Eldarov lights up Nottingham with dazzling debut

With the jumps season starting to tick into life for the winter, it is the Flat for which we begin with the eyecatchers in recent weeks. I was watching the action from Nottingham on 13 October which included a nice mix of novice races and handicaps on the card, with the eight races producing some eyecatchers to look forward to either over the winter on the All-Weather or to pop on the tracker for next year.

Two divisions of a mile novices’ stakes for the two year olds started the card, with Qitaal dictating to make all of the running in the opening division for Jason Hart and Mark Johnston, but the placed horses directly in behind look the two to take out of it. Qitaal arrived with two previous runs under his belt, unlike Windseeker and Wilkins who were both making their debuts. Windseeker wasn’t seemingly fancied beforehand by the Richard Hannon team but showed plenty of ability and also got hampered with around a furlong to go so may have finished closer to the eventual winner. However, of the two, I preferred Wilkins for the William Haggas team.

This son of Lope De Vega was given a lovely ride by Danny Tudhope, teaching him plenty without given him a hard race.

He has plenty of stamina in the pedigree and you would like to think that he would be able to mould himself into a nice staying three year old in 2022, with a race like the Melrose Handicap at York a potential very long range target.

In the second division however, it was all about one horse, and that was Eldar Eldarov. Very well backed beforehand, Roger Varian’s charge travelled strongly throughout under David Egan and when asked for an effort, he was jet propelled and despite running a bit green off the bridle, won eased down by five lengths. The £480,000 Dubawi colt also clocked the fastest time of the four races run over the same course and distance on the day, and who knows where this lad will reappear but one thing, we do know is the sky really is the limit.

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On a smaller note, for a horse in behind, James Jude for the Adam West team was beaten a fair way ultimately under Rossa Ryan but showed enough to suggest there is enough ability to win a little handicap down the line somewhere.

Sticking with the Flat, and Kempton hosted a competitive All-Weather card in the evening with the 7.00 race one I’d like to focus on. The handicapper will be delighted with his work with nine of them finishing within three lengths of the winner Lafan, but I wanted to mention two who got close but not quite close enough. Mc’Ted lined up for the Joseph Parr stable making handicap debut, and despite the lack of market support on this occasion, this shrewd outfit are certainly one to keep an eye on when assessing any race. Travelling nicely on the inside, he weaved a passage at the cutaway and stayed on well in amongst horses to finish a close fourth beaten three heads. Being rated 66 running in this 0-80, they can target races in two grades lower than this should they wish and Mc’Ted should be able to get off the mark sooner rather than later.

A further half length away was Taravara for the Simon Pearce team in fifth place making third start for the yard. Having previously been with John Gosden and then Clive Cox, he has somehow not managed to win yet from eleven starts (at time of writing) and after a slow start here, it was certainly an uphill task trying to get off the mark this time. However, the way in which this gelding stayed on and also met a little bit of trouble suggests that Pearce may well be able to get more out of him than the previous yards have.

I think it is a case of now being a slightly bigger fish in a small pond rather than a small fish in a big one.

For some jumps action now and over at Wetherby on the same afternoon, the ground was very quick, leading to some nice horses being withdrawn as the afternoon went on, but the quality was still quite high and well worth watching. The staying handicap hurdle at 3.58pm was run at a complete crawl, with a whole host of them with a chance at the second last before Flight Deck and Teescomponents Lad went clear up the hill to the line. I thought Flight Deck actually won with a bit in hand for Jonjo O’Neill senior and junior, similar in style to their top stayer from many years ago More Of That.

I’m not saying for a minute he is in that league yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw him in Graded company later this winter/spring.

Across the pond in Ireland at Punchestown, the opening maiden hurdle looked an intriguing face-off between Barbados and My Mate Mozzie. Barbados, rated over 100 on the Flat, came into this hurdling debut off the back of a runaway win in a qualified rider’s event at Listowel, with the smart Mt Leinster left to look as though he was standing still in second. My Mate Mozzie dominated this contest, dictating from the front under Sean Flanagan, jumping well and ultimately winning by a wide margin. He looks to have an awful lot of potential indeed and will no doubt be now seen in graded company. Barbados ran perfectly well in second but was no match for the winner.

Of the others a long way back, Castletownshend made a fairly encouraging start to his hurdles career for Ted Walsh. Rated 66 on the Flat and a previous winner last year together with some near misses on a variety of different ground, he took a little while to warm up in the jumping department but ran well and is one to keep an eye on in handicaps going forward.

Uttoxeter hosted an above average card on Friday 15th October, with Lord Accord’s victory in the high quality novice handicap chase the standout performance, although Ask A Honey Bee might end up being the one to take out of it over extreme trips in the future. I digress and look at the 4.15pm where Falcon Sun went into the tracker for the Mike Roberts yard after making some nice late headway under Tom O’Brien. He was rated 120 just under two years ago when trained by Dan Skelton but had struggled to be overly competitive over fences since the summer of 2020.

He had seven tries chasing and has reverted to hurdles for his new yard on his first two starts for them, with the opening start for the yard coming at the end of September. Interestingly that day the tongue tie, which was used for all of his best form, was left off, seeming to suggest that the run was a complete fact finding mission. However, it was back on at Uttoxeter together with first time cheekpieces and after travelling well in rear, kept on nicely under a hand ride to finish sixth. He is rated below 100 now and surely has scope to bounce back to top form at some stage soon, although he may need decent ground to be seen at his best.

Onto the racing on Saturday 16th October, and I’m going to pick a few out away from the obvious Champions Day card at Ascot, which is one of, if not the best quality day of racing I’ve ever seen, with only one horse rated below 100 taking part.

There was plenty of jump’s racing going on though including the Welsh Champion Hurdle won in great style by Glory And Fortune, but I’m off to Market Rasen to look at their novices’ handicap chase won in good style by Rafferty for Laura Morgan. This former point to point winner was impressive under Sean Bowen in a race he dominated from the front. He was allowed to get a breather into this free going sort and the hold-up horses had no chance of landing any sort of blow.

One of which was morning favourite Cilluirid for Tim Easterby’s yard. Built like a chaser, he jumps well in the main and is better than this suggests and given he goes on all ground, a mark of 97 certainly looks workable.

The fourth home Miraculous Getaway for the Sam England yard is well worth keeping on side too, after being well supported in a stronger race at Sedgefield last time. After a few sketchy jumps here, he got slightly out of his ground before staying on well through the line. He’ll be winning before too long.

There was Group race action at Leopardstown, with the Killavullan Stakes for the two year olds being the feature race. In a bunch finish, Glounthaune came out on top for Seamie Heffernan and Aidan O’Brien, just a week on from a defeat in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. Speaking of quick reappearances, it was just 48 hours after Boundless Ocean’s debut at the Curragh before a tilt at this contest. Having finished a head second on the Thursday when prominent in the betting, but he could easily have won here but suffered interference on a couple of occasions which definitely did him no favours. There was a lot of market support beforehand and this homebred with a beautiful pedigree, by Teofilo out of a New Approach mare and this Irish 2000 Guineas entrant clearly has a heck of a lot of ability.

He is well worth keeping on side and will easily pick up a maiden before going onto perhaps a Classic trial in the Spring.

So, there we are, the Flat turf season is done and now the jumpers are out in force, in both equine and clothing form.

What’s not to love!! Be lucky.

Will Bowler

Will Bowler is a freelance writer, together with being one of the busiest Point To Point commentators. Will also commentates on harness and pony racing, with a long list of different venues including Haydock, Wolverhampton, Southwell and a personal favourite in Beverley. He worked at Southwell Racecourse for six years as race day presenter and marketing executive, helping at Doncaster and Uttoxeter on occasion. He has shares in two horses, one with Laura Morgan and one with John Mackie.

Featured Image: (CC BY-SA 4.0) –  Nottingham Racecourse

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