Bravemansgame continued its rise with a very impressive victory in the MansionBet Challow Novices’ Hurdle in Newbury.
Several very good horses have won the first year over the years – including Gold Cup winner Denman, trained as Bravemansgame by Paul Nicholls.
An easy winner on course and distance last time around, the five-year-old faced an opponent of a different caliber this time around – but Harry Cobden was keen to make it a real test from the start.
The 5-2 joint favorite quickly took the lead – with Does He Know helping him stay honest, a victim in the straight back when he ran as he approached an obstacle.
Evan Williams’ market leader Star Gate and Alan King’s The Glancing Queen both seemed to be doing fine three times – but whenever they seemed close enough to challenge, Cobden let out a little more control.
As the last one approached, it became apparent the winner was ahead, and he cleared an impressive 10 lengths from Star Gate.
The winner narrowed to 6-1 of 12 for the Ballymore with Betfair, while the same firm made him 16-1 favorite for Albert Bartlett.
Nicholls was finishing a hat-trick on the map and only needs one more winner to reach his century for the season, before New Years Day.
“Denman won the Challow,” he said.
“It’s the same kind of big scopey horse that will make a hunter.”
“This one probably has a few more boots than Denman. He’s a tough horse to follow, but he’s going the right way. He’s got it all. It just shows you that now he’s grown up, he doesn’t. watch out for this terrain.
“He’ll go to the Ballymore. It’s just whether we give him a point in advance or not – we’ll see.
“I won’t be racing it on practice day. If we (ran again) we will look for a smooth race as part of its preparation, or we would go straight there.
“He’ll be three miles in time, but we don’t need to do that right now because he’s got a lot of speed – but the Supreme would be way too sharp for him. The Ballymore is the obvious race to get him running. “
Nicholls hadn’t won that race since Denman almost 15 years ago, in a renewal redirected to Cheltenham that winter, so it was no surprise that his name kept coming back.
“It’s hard to make comparisons with Denman because he was a superstar, but at the same stage of his career he’s moving in that direction,” he added.
“I could really see him being a lovable hunter. He’s a relentless galloper who jumps well and does everything well. He will definitely be a better chaser.
“It wasn’t cheap, but if you look at all those horses that have won at Leopardstown the last few days, they all cost a fortune. If you want good horses, you have to be prepared to pay for them.
“Tom Malone (blood inventory officer) and I loved him as a sales person. He was a great scopey hunter that I would call“ my kind of horse ”that just needed time. C he is an adorable horse.
“Harry loves him and he’s a very good looking horse. Those novice hurdles are hard to win, and Denman was beaten there (as a novice hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival).
“The Irish will have good horses to run there, but it’s exciting to go to Cheltenham with him.”
Cobden said: “He’s the best rookie we have. He travels, he jumps and he does everything right. He’s simple. He’s not lazy and he makes my job very easy.
“To be honest we weren’t that fast, but we accelerated well. He’s probably not as slow as I thought he was. I wouldn’t call him a lazy horse, but he doesn’t do a lot of things in front.
“The last three, he went down every obstacle and pricked his ears. It came out of my hands on the second to last. He’s giving himself a chance.
“I think he’s fine left-handed. Cheltenham is obviously wavy, but everyone else has to do it too.
“It is probably, looking at it now, my best chance of getting a winner at the Festival I would say. In decent Graded races, and I know these are the first gates, it would be the best chance I have to. enter it. “