CLONDAW CASTLE (IRE) produced a career best effort at Kempton on Saturday to win the Grade 3 Close Brothers Handicap Chase for his owners Sharon Nelson, John French, David McDermott and Tim Syder. The race was run at a very strong gallop so Johnny patiently waited for his moment before readily picking up the leaders in the home straight to win by two lengths. He’s now on a mark of 160 which firmly puts him into graded company. He has an entry in the Ultima at the Cheltenham Festival but it’s highly likely he will bypass that in favour of the Bowl at Aintree. He will be a fresh horse by then and should hopefully get his optimum conditions. DOUBLE SHUFFLE (IRE) ran well for a long way and stayed on to finish sixth. He moved up to number 50 in the Grand National following the first forfeit stage on Tuesday so there’s every chance he could sneak in at the bottom of the weights!
HOOLIGAN (IRE) gained his third win over hurdles in dramatic fashion at Newcastle shortly after. He was detached from the field turning for home but Sean Bowen never gave up and he suddenly started running on to reel in the runner up in the final strides! He’s now on a mark of 136 but he’s still relatively inexperienced. He could join our small string in France for conditions races which will give him a chance to earn some nice prize money and provide a stepping stone to chasing.
SPRINGFIELD FOX looked to appreciate the step up in trip when finishing fifth in the Eider Chase under a positive front running ride from David Bass. We are confident there’s a big handicap in him back on extreme heavy ground.