ON the Mildmay course Gentleman De Mee (158+) was as impressive on the clock as he was visually.
Mark Walsh must have been surprised not to see For Pleasure alongside him early on, although he still had company on the lead from Amarillo Sky. On entering the back straight, Walsh allowed his mount to extend and, despite a mistake at the cross-fence, the final circuit time was 5.7secs quicker than achieved by Sam Brown (143).
The time difference comprised a finishing sectional variation of 1.6secs to illustrate Willie Mullins’ gelding was very quick down the back straight and maintained his speed to the conclusion of the race.
Edwardstone (153) at least confirmed himself the best of the British trained two-mile novices although the eight-year-old will need to raise his game when moving in to open company next season.
Flooring Porter (145) was another Cheltenham winner to suffer defeat when he was outpointed by Sire Du Berlais (147) who was landing his first Grade 1.
At Cheltenham, the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle was run in a quicker time than its Grade 1 counterpart and so it proved again on Saturday as handicap winner Party Business (151) covered the same course and distance 1.4secs faster than the Grade 1 performers.
Delving into how the race developed from a sectional perspective is most revealing as Sire Du Berlais covered the final circuit 1sec quicker than the handicap winner, despite being slower by 1.4secs from the third last hurdle.
My assessment of the data would be that Flooring Porter was outstayed after posting a rapid sectional from the hurdle in front of the stands to the third last, which he covered 2.4secs faster than Party Business and incidentally 1.4secs quicker than Three Stripe Life (145) who won the Grade 1 Mersey Novices’ Hurdle.
If the two-mile novice chasers have a task trying to bridge the gap to open company, the three-mile hurdle equivalent is open to an improving novice who declines the option of fences. Otherwise, I would expect Flooring Porter to again take all the beating when he bids for a third successive Stayers’ Hurdle.
Party Business and Mill Green (143) may target the three-mile handicap hurdle on the Swinton Hurdle card, while Ilikedwayurthinkin (151) has an excellent record at Galway where he has form figures of 1151 over hurdles and fences. Most notably the J P McManus-owned gelding is unbeaten over hurdles at that track.