The Paul Nicholls-trained Brampour broke the two-mile hurdles course record at Ascot on Saturday on his way to a brave half-length defeat of the useful Via Galilei in a thrilling renewal of the wiliamhill.com Handicap Hurdle, writes Elliot Slater.

Partnered by Nicholls’ teenage nephew Harry Derham (who rightly drew plenty of praise for a well judged ride), Brampour was returning to the kind of form that put him into the reckoning as a serious contender for last season’s Triumph Hurdle, a race in which he ran with credit but didn’t show his very best form in finishing ninth of the 23-runner field behind Zarkandar. Even people looking for a Grand National free bets offer wouldn’t have been impressed.

The Aga Khan-bred ex-French flat racer certainly appeared to have done very well for his summer break and was noted travelling strongly in the well contested Ascot event some time before Derham asked his mount to close in on the leaders on the home turn. Delivered with his challenge approaching the final flight the gelded son of Daylami then settled down to a stirring duel with the useful yardstick Via Galilei, eventually getting the better of the argument inside the final 100 yards. The pair pulled seven-lengths clear of the third horse A Media Luz, suggesting that the form will stand close inspection. Even those looking for Grand National tips should bear this in mind.

The Gary Moore-trained runner-up also deserves plenty of credit for his effort and appears set to go on from some fine runs last term that included finishing second in the Imperial Cup at Sandown and third in a hot handicap at the Aintree Festival. Next stop for Brampour though will almost certainly be the prestigious Grade 3 Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on November 13, a race often used by top trainers as a stepping stone to a crack at some of the top two-mile events later in the term and that could prove a launching pad to the higher echelon for Saturday’s impressive Ascot scorer.

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