3/8/2016 12:10:03 PM
Monday 5th - Sunday 11th October 2015
SAUSALITO SUNRISE – HANDICAPPER
This horse was the well-backed favourite for the 2m7f handicap chase on the Saturday of Chepstow’s inaugural two day meeting but unfortunately the result ended in bitter disappointment as he was pulled-up in the home straight after travelling powerfully for the majority of the race. It appeared that there was something amiss, however, it was reported after the race that Sausalito Sunrise had been checked over by the vet and nothing had come to light - a mystery for connections and punters. Although this seasonal reappearance was far from ideal, he remains firmly of interest with a handicap mark of 144 looking particularly lenient. He is sure to improve when the mud if flying in the middle of winter and I advise that you do not write him off at this early stage.
EMERGING TALENT – TOP PROSPECT
After a disappointing run for our first handicapper at Chepstow on Saturday, I was hoping for a much more promising run from our first top prospect, Emerging Talent. A rather frustrating horse last term for Paul Nicholls, Emerging Talent made his seasonal reappearance in the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow on Sunday. He travelled strongly throughout the race, as he did in a number of his races last season, but struggled to pick up in the home straight, eventually finishing a tame fourth. Although he was highlighted in ‘The Final Flight Jumps Guide’ as a novice chaser, this was still a below-par reappearance over timber and it is now almost certain that he will be switched to fences. He jumps hurdles like he will appreciate the challenge of jumping the larger obstacles and although he is unlikely to be a Grade 1 performer, he remains of interest in that sphere.
The week in brief
Exeter and Worcester played host to a couple of decent meetings on Thursday and I feel that three horses are worth keeping tabs on for the future. Wishfull Dreaming, a full-brother to smart chaser Wishfull Thinking made a winning hurdles debut at Worcester, scoring by ½ a length. He strikes me as a horse that will appreciate a step up in trip in the future and the fact that he is only a 4-year-old, it is expected that there is plenty of improvement to come from Phillip Hobbs’ gelding. On the same card, Fingerontheswitch made amends for a narrow defeat on his hurdles debut, to score comfortably in the 2m7f maiden hurdle. He was still fresh in the early stages of the race and that was probably why the runner-up was closing on the run to the line. A horse that finished behind Shantou Village, a top prospect in ‘The Final Flight Jumps Guide’ in the point-to-point sphere, he appeared to appreciate the extra 2 furlongs, and he looks the type to continue to improve for his talented handler, Neil Mullholland. Abidjan made light work of his rivals in the 2m Novices’ Hurdle at Exeter, winning without Sam Twiston-Davies even having to get serious to win by an easy 11 lengths. The race was not without controversy with the 5-year-old proving a menace at the start, veering left which granted him an uncontested lead. However, in my opinion, the result was not affected by the antics with the best horse winning in the end and he is a really progressive type for Paul Nicholls to look forward to.
On Friday, it was another horse in the care of the Champion trainer that caught my eye, this time in the form of Simon Squirrel. He made his hurdles debut at Newton Abbot in the “National” Hunt
Novices’ Hurdle, scoring by 2 lengths over Nick Williams’ Barranco Valley. Although this may not have been the strongest event in the world, he has a bright future as a jumper and is one to look forward to for the Wylie’s.
Altior got the day off to a perfect start for Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville in the 2m “National Hunt” Novices Hurdle on Saturday. He was rather keen in the early part of the race but was still travelling strongly when long-time leader Desertmore Hill fell three out, bringing down second favourite Brave Jaq in the process. The winner looked to be getting on top before the carnage unfolded at the third last and although he coasted home in facile fashion, he looks like a useful hurdling prospect for Henderson’s Seven Barrows operation. Expect him to be stepped up in class sooner rather than later, with Graded races at Ascot often used by his handler to put his better novices to the test. The winning trainer and jockey combination teamed up in the novice chase and were again successful with the progressive Cocktails At Dawn. However, the horse to take out of the race is Native River. He was just beginning to stay on before landing awkwardly at the final fence and although the winner had probably flown by then, he would have more than likely finished second. The fact that he achieved a mark of 145 over hurdles is proof that he has plenty of ability and with further progress likely now he is tacking the larger obstacles, he is one to follow. It must be noted that I believe he will show his best form on a stiffer track or over further than the 2m3f trip that he encountered here. The Grade 3 Silver Trophy, won by 40-1 shot Court Minstrel, was a fiercely competitive event and I believe two horses are worth taking out of the race. The runner-up Rock The Kasbah ran an encouraging race on ground that is far from ideal, with his previous best efforts coming when ‘soft’ was in the going description. However, this was a career best and that excites me as I feel he can improve again once he encounters his perfect underfoot conditions. Our Kaempfer, a smart novice hurdler last season for Charlie Longsdon, made an encouraging reappearance off a handicap mark of 140 to finish fourth. The 2m3f trip was possibly on the sharp side considering that he ended last season over 3m when finishing third behind Thistlecrack in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree and therefore he has the scope to progress further over timber when stepped back up in trip. However, given the opportunity, he could be another smart recruit to the staying novice chase division and it will be interesting if connections opt to go down that route.
Sunday’s meeting at Chepstow proved just as insightful as Saturday’s counterpart with a number of horses catching my eye. Sceau Royal was first past the post in the Juvenile Hurdle but controversially lost the race in the steward’s room, with the Paul Nicholls-trained Adrien Du Pont the beneficiary. The result may be a talking point, however, both horses are exciting juveniles for the season ahead with Sceau Royal looking the more natural hurdler at this stage. Adrien Du Pont is a gorgeous looking horse and as is often the case with Nicholls’ youngsters, he looks one for the future. Beast Of Burden looked to have the 2m7f Novices’ Chase at his mercy when unseating Paul Townsend at the second last. Although I feel he will ultimately fall short of the top grade, he is certain to make amends in a similar novice chase in the coming weeks and has the ability to pick up some nice prizes for Rebecca Curtis this winter. Finally, Above Board, a 6 length winner of the first division of the bumper made a likeable impression on his racecourse debut and won in the form of a stayer after being ridden along with 6 furlongs still to race. He is only a four-year-old and looks like a horse that will improve in time, so it is expected that Jonjo O’Neill will mind him carefully in the early part of his career.