The last week or so has obviously been a very good one for my employers Gigginstown. I think they have had 14 winners since last Friday, and the star performance was that of Valseur Lido in JNwine.com Champion Chase at Down Royal.
I think you have to be honest and question the form of the race in Grade 1 terms but, then again, he beat Silviniaco Conti as easily as he liked by 11 lengths and Paul Nicholls reckoned he had the dual King George winner plenty straight enough for his comeback run.
Kempton on Boxing Day could be on the agenda for Valseur Lido, and I loved the way he settled, jumped and travelled through his race at Down Royal. He is a year-older now and he could be seeing out 3m that much better, so that all bodes well for a good season. And we know that he doesn’t lack speed, too.
Of course, he will face stiffer tasks from now on but Henry (de Bromhead) didn’t have him that long long before Down Royal – and the same is true for a lot of Gordon’s new arrivals from Willie, too – and I would hope that he can build upon this impressive win as the season progresses. He deserves a crack at the top prizes now, wherever they may be.
Don Poli was very laboured in his first-time cheekpieces in the race and on ground which would have been plenty quick enough for him, but again he wouldn’t have been with Gordon long and I am sure he will map out a suitable plan for the Gold Cup third now.
The Grand National has been mentioned, and a test of stamina on softer ground would clearly suit him better than last week’s conditions. To state the obvious, he will never be at his best when the emphasis is on speed.
Apple’s Jade was another slight disappointment for the team when finishing second on her comeback. But she didn’t run that badly with her Grade 1 penalty, and it was never going to be as easy as some made out before the race.
It is hard for 4yos at this time of the year, though I suppose you would now have to start to question how strong the juvenile form was last season with Ivanovich Gorbatov also well-beaten at Naas on Sunday.
But I am sure Apple’s Jade can be made fitter and sharper, and a step up in trip looks on the cards for her now.
There was also a lot of promise from Petit Mouchoir in third. He was caught in a pocket at the wrong time and is another who could possibly benefit from stepping up trip now, but there are plenty of options over hurdles – perhaps even over fences – whatever is decided is the route to go down with him now.
On the same card, you had to be impressed with A Toi Phil’s chasing debut. He lost his way after winning his Grade 2 at Leopardstown last January but he did it well in what was a messy enough race with a couple of fallers, which can be unsettling for inexperienced horses. He was very accurate at his fences, and I see that Gordon mentioned the Drinmore as a possible target for him.
The following day I was very impressed with Sub Lieutenant’s defeat of Outlander in the Belfast Chase. Henry has done a brilliant job on his jumping and that was the most taking aspect about his performance.
He has the look of a horse who hasn’t stopped improving yet – he looks to have strengthened and grown, as well as jumping a lot better – but I think you can take a lot of positives from the runner up’s reappearance run, as well.
He made a mistake at the wrong time and to get within 3 ½ lengths of the race-fit winner, giving him 4lb, was a very encouraging performance. He is a Grade 1 winner already and he will make his presence felt in that company again this season on the evidence of this run.
Tell Us More’s jumping can fall apart and he can jump left too, but he got away with the latter trait when winning at Naas from The Game Changer at Naas at the weekend.
He battled on well from the back of the last to win convincingly, and he will hopefully go on from here.
Finally, Alpha Des Obeaux has to be mentioned after he continued his education over fences with a good win at Cork.
I thought 2m4f around there in a three-runner race could be too sharp a test for the World Hurdle runner-up and it was pleasing to see that a mistake early didn’t knock his confidence.
Mouse (Morris) stuck him in there for experience and there will be plenty of options for him now; he is obviously another very promising staying novice chaser for us.