Oscar's chance to display well-being

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The Independent Online

The postponement of the champion hurdler's comeback, leaving just four runners, by no means divests the Ladbrokes Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown tomorrow of its relevance to the defence of his crown.

Nor, equally, would defeat for Oscar Wells disqualify him as one of the most eligible challengers for Hurricane Fly at Cheltenham in March.

Beaten in another small field on his return at Down Royal, Oscar Wells seems unlikely to disclose his full potential at two miles until getting a strongly run race. But while it would be no disgrace to be caught out by Thousand Stars or Pittoni, Jessica Harrington will hope Oscar Wells looks somewhat sharper this time.

The card also features a couple of novice chases likely to volunteer a potential star or two, none at this stage looking more promising than Four Commanders. A brother to Kicking King, he has quickly looked far better over fences than he did over timber, really impressing with his jumping at Down Royal last time.

Plenty of Ireland's best prospects continue to find their way to British yards, however, and Simsonig looked one of them when he contributed to Nicky Henderson's spree yesterday. Winner of two point-to-points and a bumper in his homeland, he made such an impression for Seven Barrows at Ascot that Betfred offer 12-1 for the Neptune Novices' Hurdle at the Festival. Henderson may now run him in the Challow Hurdle at Newbury on New Year's Eve.

Denis O'Regan picked up a nine-day suspension – and forfeited his share of the prize-money – for a fairly flagrant violation of the new whip rules in the bumper at Haydock. He used the whip a dozen times on Chancery, four more than permitted.