I liked him when he won for me at Carlisle and I thought he would go close to following up off a 7lb higher mark at Kempton in the 32Red.com Chase on Boxing Day. And he did. He was just unlucky to bump into an on-song and very talented Hell’s Kitchen on the day. We pulled a mile clear of the third, so I don’t think anyone can argue with him going up another 4lb for that run, and hopefully he is still competitively weighted. I think he is, but the softer ground here is a concern for him, I accept.
We had the option off running him off a mark of 145 in the 2m4f+ handicap chase earlier on the card or get weight off some talented chasers over a longer trip in this Grade 2, and Tom has opted for this race. He obviously has a bit to find on official ratings but this trip plays much to his strengths – he won his novice chase over course and distance last year – and it was good to see him finish his race at Ascot last time, which will have done his confidence no harm after his Newbury fall. He is clearly up against it at these weights, but conditions will suit and hopefully he will come forward again from Ascot.
He ran the race of his life at Newbury last time and, for all this looks a very hot Grade 2, a reproduction of that form should see him right in the mix again here. It was pretty deflating to see him beaten a short-head there, as he gave his all and was coming back for more at the line – perhaps he just got a bit lonely there – but that at least confirmed to us what an exciting prospect we have on our hands. I think it is fair to say that this is a stronger race than that Challow but he looks to have his ground – and more rain wouldn’t worry him, that’s for sure – and he looks to be one of the form horses, as it stands. I schooled him on Friday morning and was delighted with him.
The Worlds End
We were obviously a little disappointed with his comeback run at Haydock, but by no means disheartened, and he duly showed us a lot more in the Long Walk last time. It was obviously bottomless at Haydock and he felt more like his Grade 1-winning self on better ground at Ascot and that gives us a lot to build on. He does carry a 3lb penalty for his Aintree win and takes on higher-rated horses here, but hopefully he is a coming force in this division and will give a good account of himself. I schooled him on Thursday and he felt great.
He clearly didn’t run up to his best in the 32Red Lanzarote last time, but at least he has been dropped another 2lb for it and I think the step back down in trip will suit. His best form last season came at the minimum distance, when he rounded off his campaign with an eighth in the Fred Winter off a 4lb higher mark than this. A decently-run race on soft ground over this trip could just see him bounce back to form, so hopefully they will go a gallop for him.
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