Horses To Follow » Battlecry


I’m going to give Battlecry one more chance. I have to admit that my initial inclination was to put a line through him after his performance in the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday, because there is a chance that there is a hole in the horse, that he simply doesn’t have the mentality for the game any more and that he will not build on the promise that he showed last season as a novice. However, there is also a chance that his performance on Saturday was down to the form of his yard.

He travelled supremely well, jumped well and looked the most likely winner on the run to the home turn, so much so that he traded at as low as 6/4 on Betfair. But he found very little, and actually faded so badly that he could finish only fifth, some 30 lengths behind the winner The Sawyer.

When a yard is not firing, its representatives often run like this, travel well but fail to get home, and, while the recent runs of Kilvergan Boy and Mahogany Blaze gave justified cause for optimism that a recovery in the form of the Twiston-Davies horses was gathering momentum, they are not there yet, and you have to treat its runners with a fair degree of wariness still. On Saturday, the trainer had six runners at Cheltenham and four at Doncaster. Of the 10 runners, eight of them were disappointing, with only Unfurled and Tricky Trickster performing better than adequately, and even that pair didn’t seem to finish out there respective races as well as you would ideally have liked.

Battlecry was potentially really well handicapped on a mark of 145 before Saturday, and there is every chance that the handicapper will drop him a couple of pounds for this run. While he has won over three miles, he always leaves the impression that he only just gets it. As such, a fast-run stiff two and a half miles or an easy three miles on good ground is probably what he wants. Also, over three miles he needs to be ridden with significantly more restraint than that with which he was ridden in the Reynoldstown, the Mildmay Chase and in the Sun Alliance Chase last season. He would be very interesting in one of the Cheltenham Festival handicaps if the Twiston-Davies horses come back to form before then, with the William Hill Chase just shading it in my book from the Racing Post Plate, although he would have to be ridden patiently in the former if that were chosen as his objective.

© The Irish Field, 31st January, 2009