Horses To Follow » Chablais


Chablais was very impressive in winning the two-mile-five-furlong novices’ hurdle at Kempton on Saturday, the winning margin of a length not even close to representing the margin of his dominance. He tracked the leaders early on, just behind the front rank of horses and was clearly keen to go faster. His jumping was quick when he met his flights on the right stride but he still has to learn to fiddle his hurdles when he gets in close to them as he was untidy at three or four here. He took closer order effortlessly down the back straight; coming out of the back the front three or four in the market were all still travelling well, but Chablais cruised to the front on the run to the second last after turning in and the others were soon outpaced. Sybarite, who was good enough to finish second in a Grade 2 novices’ contest at Cheltenham on his debut over hurdles, ran on quite strongly after the last on this, his second hurdles start, and Chablais had to be given a couple of stern cracks on the run-in, but Sybarite was never really closing the gap quickly enough and Chablais was holding him off pretty comfortably with the obvious conclusion that there is a good deal more to come.

His minor jumping errors aside, Chablais impressed all the way through this race, such was the manner in which he travelled, the way that he quickened off the home turn and the willingness he showed to buckle down from the back of the last. Two of the other promising sorts, The Reformer and Made In Time, were both still travelling well too turning out of the back straight but neither had any answer to Chablais once he went on. They were ultimately beaten 10 and over 28 lengths respectively.

Chablais cost £260,000 after winning his only point-to-point and on this evidence that could be money well spent. Although seen as a staying chaser in the making, he has plenty of speed at this stage. Nicky Henderson’s vast army of novice hurdlers means it is always hard to tell which ones are thought of as Cheltenham Festival class, but it would be no surprise at all if this fellow was lining up in the Neptune Hurdle in March.

15th January 2011