Horses To Follow » Anquetta


Anquetta is not completely straightforward, but he is talented, and there was a lot to like about the performance that he put up in winning the two-mile handicap chase that rounded things off at Sandown on Saturday. David Bass had the son of Anshan up in the van the whole way in a race that was run at a fast pace, he jumped well, took a breather going to the Pond Fence, when he looked vulnerable, but he picked up again when asked off the home turn, and he came away again over the last two fences. He did prick his ears going to the last, and he wandered on the run-in and flashed his tail (not for the first time), but he probably won with plenty in hand. This was a competitive handicap chase in which plenty of horses were well-fancied. The fact that a couple of the fancied horses – notably Call Me A Legend and Noble Alan – didn’t appear to run their races will inevitably be used by some as a stick with which to beat down the form, but the pace was fast and the winning time was good.

Anquetta is now on a sharp upward curve. He failed to win in three attempts over hurdles, and he looked decidedly ordinary when he was well beaten by Rebel Du Maquis on his second run over fences at Taunton in November, as evidenced by a mark of 115 for his handicap debut at Leicester in January. But he was impressive in winning at Leicester, racing prominently and going on early, and a 10lb hike for that didn’t stop him on Saturday when ridden similarly. The handicapper has given him another 7lb for this, but he left the impression that he had plenty more left to give if more had been required, despite the fact that he hung to his left and swished his tail on the run-in. The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding is only seven, this was just his fourth chase, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next. He is a hugely improved performer now that he has been dropped to two miles and ridden prominently. Both his most recent wins have been at right-handed tracks, but he has run well at Fakenham and is reasonable to assume that his improvement is more down to the drop in distance and possibly to race tactics than to course configuration. He could be a Grand Annual horse, given his trainer’s penchant for the race, named after his late father. Henderson also has Tanks For That for the race, and possibly Mad Max and Dave’s Dream and probably a host of others, but Anquetta would be of interest if this race materialised as his target. It is a race in which novices do well, and Anquetta’s rating of 132 is just about spot on.

5th February 2011

© The Irish Field 12th February 2011