I was very happy with him until he was galloped into from behind at Cheltenham, and I had to pull him up between the last two. He returned lame but all is fine now. It was obviously annoying, as he could well have played a hand in the finish the way the race panned out, but at least the injury wasn’t serious and that was the main thing. He finished second in the Grade 1 novice here in 2015, and beat Al Ferof in this race the following year, and drying ground will really be a plus. He is an 11yo now and doesn’t have youth on his side, but he has been in great form on the track this season and I think he still has enough about him to put it up to some shorter-priced horses in here, for all the official ratings tell you he has a big job on. And he does, let’s be honest about it.
The rain around this week has been in his favour and he is progressing nicely. He ran a great race for me when third in a big-field Sandown handicap over 2m4f last time, and I don’t have too many worries about him stepping back up to 3m, for all that he was beaten over this trip at Ludlow previously. He is another of mine that needs to improve a good deal to be competitive here but, as I said, he is a horse going forward and this is just his fifth start over hurdles.
Book Of Invasions
He has run to a decent level on all three starts since joining John [Ryan]. He won for me at Doncaster in December and has since run well to be placed at both Cheltenham and Musselburgh. He bumped into a smart sort in Scotland last time and, while this is obviously tougher, I can see him outrunning his price. He has to improve a fair amount though, for sure.
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