Three more chasers for the notebook >>>
27th November: 1.15 Wetherby
Oscar Wilde (5YO/Sue Smith)
This unexposed/maiden was having only his 2nd chase start, over 2m5f in soft ground. He was fairly well supported here and was travelling ominously well when hitting the top at the 13th fence down the back. He was tanking along to my eye and may have given the winner plenty to think about – I think the front two may well have been clear there. The winner was also unexposed, was still well handicapped and arrived on the back of a win – so, it was shaping to be solid form.
In time that error may serve him well, teaching him to buck his ideas up a tad. In any case he moved like a well handicapped horse in conditions and he should be picking up a chase soon enough. Maybe Danny C will be more aggressive from the front NTO, giving him a clear sight of his fences – and maybe an easier jumping test, at the likes of Catterick say.
28th November: 2.15 Taunton
Benechenko (7YO/Fergal O’Brien)
This horse was making his chasing debut here after a lengthy enough lay-off. He was beaten 1/2 L come the line and it was a promising debut – especially given the field size and i’m not sure the track was ideal. Looking at his hurdles runs he shaped like a stayer on more than one occasion, as he did again here – doing all his best work late. He may well come on a tad for the run also (although I suspect the yard had him pretty straight/and he was going forward at the line) and hopefully he doesn’t ‘bounce’ NTO. He seems versatile as to going but does shape as if he’s worth a go over 26f+, and certainly at a stiffer/more galloping track.
He had some ok form over hurdles, with a few decent placed efforts. They hinted at ability and a few of them have produced subsequent winners, indicating that this mark looks more than workable.
30th November: 1.15 Newbury
Minella For Me (9YO/Tom George)
There could be more to come from this 9 year old this season… 3/12 over fences. He is on a career high mark which was gained after a couple of facile enough victories in C4s, 6 and 8 runner affairs, over around 3 miles.
This was a deep race, a competitive C2 over 2m6f, on his first run of the season. He was sent off at 50/1 here but travelled/jumped well in the main. He loomed up around 3 out and was in there pitching just after 2 out, and at one stage in the straight wasn’t that far off the pace setters/upsides the eventual second. He was a bit tapped for toe (part trip/part class/pace I suspect) but I suspect may have needed the run also.
He will find much less competitive races than this and he could have an ok chase in him soon enough – a decent Class 3 with a bigger weight, back up to 3m or so. His overall profile may suggest he’s a bit fragile/been hard to train and it could be his next two starts are the time to catch him. It could be that he’s best on flatter tracks also, esp given how he ran at Cheltenham two starts back. In any case there will be far less competitive races than this for him to compete in.
I should mention the ‘Hennessy’ – while I don’t think it had any future Gold Cup stars competing, it does look like a renewal worth following. I suspect there will be a few future winners to come out of this. Elegant Escape is going to compete wherever he rocks up, especially if softer, and over further- I wonder if he will go for The Welsh National again, and you could see him going close. The Conditional ran another cracker and I think it’s time I treated him like a serious handicapper – his last win was tricky to weight up given the ground/how spread eagled they were- but this proved he could handle a big field, going at pace, on better ground. He wasn’t stopping come the line and could be another for 3m4f+ handicaps. Mr Malarkey ran well for a long way and I suspect he’s got a staying chase in him. Dingo Dollar ran well for Alan King in the 1st time visor – he was pushing the pace on the front end before fading a bit. He seemed to respond to pressure and put his head down. King has always thought he had an ok handicap in him but it didn’t quite click last season. I could see him making all in a less competitive handicap.
My two didn’t run very well. Borice didn’t run that well – I wonder if he needs softer ground, or maybe I just overrated that Galway Plate win. I still think there should be more to come at some point.
Robinsfirth – well he tanked through this fairly well, for a time anyway. I lived in hope he’d come through and challenge as they headed out for the final time. However he walked through one down the back which in effect ended his race I think. He lost position (maybe couldn’t hold it at this pace/trip/class/field size) and found traffic after a few jumps. His goose was cooked as they turned in really and Johnson looked after him. Tizzard made positive noises before the race and I suspect he’s a 3m4f chase in him somewhere this season, maybe back at Haydock.