The jumpers are out in force at Chepstow today and with the likes of HANDAZAN, FINGAL BAY and HINTERLAND on show we can be sure the National Hunt trainers are starting to unleash the shackles on some of their more potent weapons.
HANDAZAN is of particular interest to me as he made my ‘NTF 20 to follow’ list. He is well thought of by Alan King so lets hope this son of Nayef can translate his flat form to the National Hunt sphere.
One of the benefits of my meticulous approach to constructing my ‘to follow’ list for the season is that I also come across numerous horses that I would consider to be ‘well-handicapped’. In other words a horse that is sitting on a mark that I think is below his or her true ability.
Over the next couple of days I want to share with you 6 horses that I consider to have scope to improve on their current marks and in the process hopefully land a handicap or 2 on the way.
Here are the first 3 of those ‘well-handicapped’ horses…
*Key = Horse name (Trainer) | Dosage Figures
MAGNANIMITY (D Hughes) | 3-0-10-9-2 | (20+) (24) | 0.50 | -0.29
Current handicap mark – 140
This 8yo ran in 3 Grade 1 contests last season and was obviously considered to be a fair bit better than a handicapper. Unfortunately he was soundly beaten on all 3 attempts at the top level and he simply looks to be a fair bit short of the top of the tree. He does, however, hold plenty of ability and he did show glimpses of it on a couple of runs last season. There was plenty to like about his 6th place finish at the Festival in the JLT Handicap Chase (he was still well in there coming down the hill on the final circuit) and despite being pulled-up in the Irish National I thought he ran a very eye-catching race indeed (would maybe have sneaked a place had he not made a race-stopping error 2 out). He ended his campaign with a credible 5th in a valuable handicap chase at the Punchestown Festival which at least gave connections a glimmer of hope at the end of a tough 2nd season chasing for the gelding.
He started last season on a mark of 150 and will start this season on a mark of 140. At best he probably is a 150-ish horse but that isn’t good enough to be competitive in the top chases and his limitations were comprehensively exposed at that level last season. If I am correct about where the ceiling of his abilities are then he has around a 10 lbs maneuvering zone, something that makes him a very interesting handicap proposition.
One of the keys to getting him back in the winners enclosure could be the ground. Essentially the softer it is the better it is –
Form on Soft or worse – 2-3-4-5-1-1-1-2-3-1-2-P
Form on Good to Soft or better – 9-5-7-P-3-4-8-6
All of his wins have come on soft or worse (maybe he should have been running this summer?!?) and there should be plenty of opportunities for connections to find a winning ‘soft’ spot for him this winter/spring.
His pedigree leans towards stamina and although his form figures maybe hint that shorter would be better I do still think he could win over a trip of 3 miles or further. On the same hand I would give him consideration in heavy/soft ground over 2m4f/5f.
Magnanimity Ideal Conditions – Handicap Chase | Soft or worse going | 3m+ although shorter considered
WALKON (A King) | 1-1-3-3-0 | (8) | 0.78 | 0.00
Current handicap mark – 143
The grey started his chasing campaign last season with an extremely taking display at Exeter. He jumped foot perfect that day and cruised home by 6 lengths in what was probably an above average Novice Chase. Things seemed to fall apart a bit after that and he was never able to match that Exeter run in his subsequent 4 starts; finishing his season being pulled-up in the Scottish National.
He ran in the Scottish National off 148 (had initially been given a chase mark in february of 153) and was actually making some headway before the petrol tank bottomed out and jockey Robert Thornton pulled him up 6 from home. I’m not convinced he is a stayer and his CV does seem to back that up –
Form at 2m – 2m3.5f – 1-2-1-1-0-1-2-3-2-1
Form at 2m4f+ – 4-7-5-P
Admittedly he hasn’t had that many tries over 2m4f+ but so far there has been little to shout about. Personally I don’t think trips such as 2m4f/5f should pose too much problems although at the moment I wouldn’t be overly keen on him at trips around 3 miles or further.
If connections are shrewd enough they would do well to target him at something for his comeback run as he has an excellent record fresh –
Form after a break of 121 days or more – 1-1-2
He is clearly one that can strike on his first run back and with a favourable handicap mark to work with connections would do well to pinpoint an early season handicap target.
His monthly form also suggests that winter time is the period where they are most likely to get him in the winners enclosure again –
Nov – Jan form – 1-2-1-1-0-1-2-3-2-1
Feb – Apr form – 0-4-2-7-5-1-P
He clearly prefers the depth of winter rather than the blossoming of spring-time and this is further proof that it would be foolish to waste what could be a very favourable handicap mark.
Walkon Ideal Conditions – Handicap Chase | 2m – 2m5f | November – January
LIE FORRIT (W Amos) | 2-0-13-5-2 | (20+) (22) | 0.63 | -0.23
Current handicap mark – 134
There is absolutely no way this lad is only a 134 rated chaser at best, ABSOLUTELY NO WAY!!
Things haven’t gone to plan for Willie Amos’s stable star since his exploits as a hurdler. I remember speaking to Willie in the summer of 2010 when he was preparing Lie Forrit for a novice chasing campaign. He was convinced this lad would destroy the other novices’ on the north circuit, he was schooling like a dream at home and all was rosy. Then disaster strikes! Lie Forrit gets injured and has to miss the whole of the 2010/11 campaign. A bitter blow but Willie gave his lad plenty of time to recover and didn’t rush him back before he was ready. He finally made his chasing debut at Kelso last December where he ground out victory in his typical galloping fashion. In his next 2 starts he only faced two opponents each time and those conditions simply were not going to suit him, tactical races are no use to him and as a consequence he finished 2nd on both occasions. The Scottish National was then a possibility as an end of season target but once again disaster strikes! The yard picks up a small cough and Willie has no option but to rough his runners off for the season.
Every cloud has a silver lining (or so they say!) and the upside of all this is that Lie Forrit finds himself able to start the season off a mark of 134, a mark that is a full 14 lbs lower than his current hurdle mark and 21 lbs lower than his peak hurdles rating.
He makes a good jumping shape at his obstacles and providing he gets a decent pace to aim at he will be able to use his substantial engine powers to floor his opponents.
It is unlikely we have seen anywhere near the best of this lad and providing he stays fit I would be disappointed if we didn’t see him in the winners enclosure on at least a couple of occasions this season.
Remember here at NTF we are in the unique position of being able to monitor the progress of Lie Forrit throughout the season as Zander Voy (his new pilot) has been keeping us updated on his progress through his weekly diary Blog posts.
Lie Forrit Ideal Conditions – Handicap Chase | 3 mile + | At least 7 opponents, ideally more | Good to soft or worse
Part II of my ‘6 well-handicapped horses’ post will appear on the NTF Blog tomorrow.
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