We weren’t sure what to make of his run in the Haldon Gold Cup last week. He won that race first time out last season and, while it was clearly a good renewal and he had his work well and truly cut out trying to give weight to some high-class horses off a mark of 160, we obviously expected him to run a fair bit better than he did. He was just never going there, and hopefully it was just a case of one of those off-days that you can put a line through and move on. It was plenty soft enough for him there though, and he seems very well since, so we take our chance. We do know what a seriously good horse he is on his day, as he showed in the Desert Orchid and when third in the Champion Chase, but clearly he does have to show more than last time and he does carry a 6lb penalty for that Exeter win last season.
He fetched a fair amount after winning his bumper from a subsequent scorer in Ireland in the summer and, although he was beaten for us at Stratford on his hurdling debut, we were delighted with him there. He probably bumped into a very good one of Harry Fry’s that day, so to be beaten just ¾ lengths and to pull clear of the third, was a very promising effort. It’s a fair step up from being beaten in a maiden hurdle to contesting a Grade 2, but he has done very well since and this is a horse we obviously rate. I don’t think he will be disgraced, put it like that, especially as he raced a bit keenly at Stratford and this better class of race will suit him.
I rode him to win at Exeter last season and he obviously showed bags of promise to win there. He is a real powerful unit and while the form of that race hasn’t worked out too well – though the third won at Stratford earlier in the month – I wouldn’t be too worried about that. We think he is a very nice prospect indeed, and this will tell us a lot more. You also don’t need me to tell you how competitive these bumpers are though, and a list of the previous winners of this race, which include Rock On Ruby, hammers that home.
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