Possible not the greatest weekend of National Hunt racing action we have ever seen but nevertheless there were still plenty horses catching my eye with a view to future assignments.
Here are my 3 main notebook horses ….
SAMMY SPIDERMAN (A Whillans) – Saturday – 1.25 Newcastle – 2nd in the 3m Handicap Chase
The 9yo is far from being a world-beater but like any horse he has his preferred conditions and when he gets them he can be dangerous in his own right. He put in a solid round of jumping at Gosforth Park on Saturday and his performance suggested to me he just starting to come to the boil. He is currently racing from a chase mark of 85, a mark that realistically he should be able to win from being that his 4 chase wins have come off marks of 84-90-95-83; in other words he is handicapped to win a race. He is also a horse that needs plenty of cut in the ground with his 4 career wins coming on soft and heavy (x3); this time of the year is perfect for him. Single figure fields and class 4 (or less) opposition are also imperative to the Karinga Bay gelding with all 4 of his wins coming in fields of 9 or less in class 4 contests. The horse also has a serious love affair with Ayr with all 4 of his career victories coming at the west coast track.
So simple really – Ayr | Class 4 Chase | soft or heavy ground | 9 or less runners | running from a mark similar to what he is on now (85)
Keep your eyes peeled…..
DAVE’S DREAM (N Henderson) – Saturday – 2.05 Sandown – 7th in the 2m Handicap Chase
The 9yo was never really travelling comfortably on Saturday and jockey David Bass was pumping away for a vast majority of the 2 mile contest. Personally I was quite happy with that as those glaringly obvious signs should be enough to allow the handicapper to relent and drop the 9yo a few lbs. To my eyes there are 2 things hindering the Anshan gelding at the moment – 1) he is too high in the handicap (147 is beyond him in my opinion) and 2) he is running over the wrong trip (he looks like at least a 2m4f/5f horse to me). I’m the first to admit that his record at distances beyond 2m2f is pretty disastrous but if you watch the race again on Saturday they were clearly going too fast for him and he struggled to match the 2 mile pace that was being set. Encouragingly he never looked like throwing in the towel and kept responding to the urgings of David Bass, so much so that he probably started making ground once the straightened up for home. His pedigree suggests that he has stamina in there and I really believe there is a race in him over a longer trip. He is clearly a horse that excels when coming back from a lengthy break and it may be an idea for connections to give him a break now until springtime and aim him for something at Cheltenham/Aintree/Ayr/Punchestown, preferably up in trip please Mr Henderson.
NEPTUNE COLLONGES (P Nicholls) – Saturday – 3.10 Sandown – 2nd in the 3m Handicap Chase
The run of this admirable 11yo was clear for all to see on Saturday and I’m firmly of the opinion he still has plenty to give. His new mark of 159 looks on the lenient side, especially considering he ran a credible 6th in last seasons Scottish National (4 runs ago) off a mark of 168. He has a tendency to sulk in his races if he isn’t able to get into his own rhythm, a trait that was clear to see on Saturday. Ruby Walsh done a wonderful job to regalvanize him and that is a big suggestion that there is still plenty of fire left in the belly of the grey (Neptunes not Ruby!). If we take a look back at his Argento Chase victory last season (formerly the Pillar/Cotswold Chase) he was able to dictate his own rhythm and this showed him in his best light; similar small field conditions races or handicaps are likely to be where future victories come. The important aspect for Nicholls horse is that he is able to settle into a comfortable jumping rhythm, if these types of races can be found for him then we have every chance of seeing him back in the winners enclosure.
Let me know if there were any eye-catchers for you this weekend by leaving a comment below.
Before I go today I want to point you back to my last ‘3 to follow…’ post where I highlighted the Venetia Williams trained LIGHTNING STRIKE. This is a prime example of looking closer at the ‘also-rans’ in any race and also how even the smallest piece of horse profiling can help point towards the winners. It pays to be thorough…..