Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Stylish Start for New Boy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Stylish Start for New Boy

Article excerpt

HOPES are high that Its'afreebee can make his mark in the novice chase division this season following a stylish start to his career over fences at Fakenham.

The six-year-old won his first three starts after joining Dan Skelton last season, completing his hat-trick in Grade Two company at Haydock to earn himself an appearance at the Cheltenham Festival.

While his unbeaten hurdling record went up in smoke in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, he was far from disgraced in finishing third behind top-class pair Yorkhill and Yanworth and he was unsurprisingly all the rage on his first start since in the Helhoughton Novices' Chase.

Harry Skelton kept things simple aboard the prohibitively-priced 3-10 favourite, sending him straight to the lead, and after a minor scare at the first fence his jumping was assured.

Its'afreebee looked set to cruise home as he rounded the final turn with a clear advantage, but Rolling Maul was doing his best work at the finish and there was just a length and a quarter between the pair at the line.

A return to Cheltenham could be on the agenda for the winner, according to assistant trainer Tom Messenger.

He said: "I'm very pleased.

Obviously he was a top-class novice hurdler last year and you can see that he looks a natural chaser, but they've still got to go out there and do it.

"He jumped very well on the whole. Harry left him alone at the last and he got in a bit tight, but he picked up when the other horse came at him.

"I think there's a novice chase worth PS25,000 at the Open meeting at Cheltenham over two and a half miles. He'll stay at this sort of trip.

"He was placed over hurdles in the Neptune and it would be nice to think he's up to that grade over fences. There's nothing to suggest he won't be."

The Skelton brothers had earlier combined to land the Fakenham Handicap Hurdle with 11-8 favourite Throthethatch and went on to complete a treble with 15-8 market leader Al Reesha in the concluding Norfolk Novices' Hurdle. …

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