The first 2 British Classics of the 2013 flat season flashed into the formbooks this weekend (already?!?) and although I gave them my full attention I did also have my ‘1 to follow brain’ fully tuned on the jumping stuff at Uttoxeter & Hexham.
Today’s ‘1 to follow’ horse ran in the race sponsored by the good folks that make up the Uttoxeter Twitterati…
NTF 1 to follow from the weekend: FIRM ORDER…
FIRM ORDER (P Webber) – 2nd in 3m Class 4 Nvc’s Hcp Chase at Uttoxeter (4.15) – Saturday 4th May
Paul Webber’s 8yo was having his 2nd start since his winter break and connections wasted no time in sticking him back over fences now the new season has rumbled into action. The Winged Love gelding had a minor battle for the lead over the first few fences but once he jumped to the front over the 5th fence he looked much happier and Denis O’Regan went about trying to use the horse’s quick jumping to stretch the others. He did his best to burn them off from the front and it was only jumping the last that he gave way to the slightly more experienced Patsy Finnegan, going down by just over a length in the end to the Alan King horse. Despite the defeat he still equalled his best ever RPR figure (123) and also recorded his best Proform speed figure over fences (60 – previous best was 53). There was plenty to like in this performance and his name was firmly planted in my notebook…
So where to now for Firm Order?
Firm Order is still a maiden over fences after 7 starts so in theory there are plenty of options available to him. His mark of 112 looks pretty workable especially considering that he won 2 handicap hurdles from slightly higher marks (116 & 115) and he looks to have the size and scope to reach higher marks over the larger obstacles. I’m slightly of the opinion that he is maybe a better animal going right-handed as he did give the impression on Saturday that he has the tendency to float over to his right whilst jumping his fences. A look at his RH & LH splits maybe also hints at that….
Form going Right-Handed – 98154148U446
Form going Left-Handed – 52316PPF2
That clearly isn’t rock solid evidence but 2 of his 3 wins have come going Right-Handed and 3 of his 4 non-completions have come going Left-Handed. Hardly conclusive but there are hints there and I did see a few right-handed jumps at left-handed Uttoxeter.
What is a bit more conclusive is the fact that he does perform better on Good or better ground…
Form on Good or better – 981151648PFU2
Form on Good to Soft or worse – 5234P446
All 3 career wins have come on Good or better and the signs are that he likes to hear his hooves rattle.
He also seems to enjoy the challenge of undulating tracks as he is 0/10 on flat tracks compared to 3/11 on more undulating tracks.
His pedigree suggests he has a decent slab of stamina influences in him so 3m+ trips on testing tracks are potentially where we will see the best of him.
Connections evidently kept him away from the testing winter ground and now we eventually have the decent weather (where have you been this past year!!!) the signs are that he will be breaking his chasing duck sooner rather than later.
Firm Order ideal conditions – Good or better ground | May just be more at home going right-handed | Trips around 3 miles | Probably better away from flat tracks and where there is emphasis on stamina
Ben – (NTF).