Do we want to be backing a first time faller/un-seater for festival success?
Just over 2 years ago I wrote a similar article, using the heading above, here on the NTF Blog, regarding the last fence departure on chasing debut of hot Arkle Chase fancy (at the time obviously!) Menorah. Fast forward 2 years and after a similar(ish) incident befell hot Arkle Chase fancy Grandouet at Sandown on Saturday I thought it was the right time to revisit, revive and update the old article and bring it back to life for current events….
GRANDOUET– Unseated rider at last on Chase debut
“Jumped big 1st, tracked leader, led 3 out, shaken up and headed next, a length down when blundered last and unseated rider”
Not the greatest chasing debuts in recent history from a horses that is expected to get pretty near the top of the chasing tree, I’m sure you will agree?
Despite making a complete hash of the last fence and unceremoniously dumping Barry Geraghty on his behind, GRANDOUET is still near the head of the Arkle Chase market at the Cheltenham Festival in March – the Henderson horse is now a general a 10-1/12-1 shot for Grade 1 glory in the spring, only 2013 Supreme Novices’ champion Champagne Fever is available at a shorter price.
However, if we take a look back at the chase debuts of the Arkle top 3 finishers over the past 12 seasons one thing is glaringly obvious; you need to stay on your feet on chasing debut if you are to have any pretensions of having a say in the finish of the premier 2 mile Grade 1 Novice Chase.
In fact the bare figures tell you its a massive advantage to not only stay on your feet but to have actually WON on your chasing debut.
Take a look at the last 12 Arkle top 3 finishers and how they fared on their respective Chasing debuts…
Simonsig – 1st on Chasing Debut
Bailey Green – 3rd
His Excellency – 1st
Sprinter Sacre – 1st
Cue Card – 1st
Menorah – UR (beaten 29 lengths in Arkle)
Captain Chris – 2nd
Finians Ranbow – 1st
Realt Dubh – 1st
Sizing Europe – 1st
Somersby – 1st
Osana – 1st
Forpadytheplasterer – 1st
Kalahari King – 1st
Planet Of Sound – 4th
Tidal Bay – 1st
Kruguyrova – 1st
Noland – 1st
My Way De Solzen – 1st (PU on only chase start in France as a 4yo before moving to A King)
Fair Along – 1st
Jack The Giant – 1st
Voy Por Ustedes – 1st
Monets Garden – 1st
Foreman – 2nd
Contraband – 2nd
Ashley Brook – 1st
River City – 1st
Well Chief – 1st
Kicking King – 5th
Le Duc – 1st
Azertyuiop – 1st
Impek – 1st
Isio – 1st
Moscow Flyer – FELL
Seebald – 1st
Armaturk – 1st
So from the last 36 Arkle Chase top 3 finishers…..
28 WON on their Chase debut
31 finished in the top 2 on their Chase debut
Only TWO failed to complete the course on their chase debut….and one of those was the mighty MOSCOW FLYER! (the other was the not so mighty, but still well above average, Menorah)
If we look a bit deeper and concentrate only on the Arkle winners and their form figures over fences in their season leading up to their Arkle triumph then we get the following…
Simonsig – 11
Sprinter Sacre – 111
Captain Chris – 2221
Sizing Europe – 1111
Forpadydeplasterer – 1222
Tiday Bay – 1112
My Way De Solzen – 1211
Voy Por Ustedes – 1111
Contraband – 2213
Well Chief – 1
Azertyuiop – 111
Moscow Flyer – F111F
Only 1 of 12 failed to complete on ALL starts before their Arkle triumph (Moscow Flyer, who actually had TWO falls from his 5 starts!!)
10 of the 12 were yet to finish out with the top 2 on all chase starts before the Arkle, only Contraband stops that from being 11 from 13 as he finished…wait for it…3rd on one of his runs!
The figures really don’t look promising for Grandouet to go on and achieve Arkle Chase success at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival in March.
Obviously racing is not always as cut and dry as this (if only!!) but failing to complete on chasing debut is far from ideal and I would be wanting to see a clear round from Grandouet before even entertaining backing him for festival Chase glory.
Is a clear round on debut a major key to Arkle success?
The figures point firmly towards YES.
Is completing on ALL chase starts in your Novice season leading up to the Arkle a key component to Festival glory?
The stats point in no uncertain terms to YES. (Unless of course your name is Moscow Flyer, then you can do what the hell you want!!!)
Jumping is,after all, the name of the game…….