Horses To Follow » Sarando


Sarando is a big, burly horse who reportedly takes a lot of work to get fit. He had a run on the flat, in a two-mile apprentices’ handicap at Newbury, in the penultimate week of October (where he was weak in the market before finishing sixth of seven), and, while Paul Webber had said before Sarando’s next start, in a graduation chase at Carlisle on Monday, that they had done as much work as they could with him at home, he also said that the horse would improve for the race.

It was therefore no surprise that the horse was weak in the market again, he was clear favourite in the morning but a comfortable third choice in the market at 7/2 at the off having got as big as 4/1 on course. He defied the market negativity easily though, coming home a comfortable winner. He was careful and backed off the second fence and clouted the second last one, but those were the only two real jumping errors, and he was generally safe over his fences, but big and bold at times too, really standing off the third from home on the first circuit and the middle one down the back straight on the second circuit. Will Kennedy settled him in fourth place on the first circuit, right on the girth of the favourite Aikman, before he made ground at the start of the second and final circuit, a good jump at the first down the back straight taking him to the lead. He was joined by Aikman over the next fence and they went on together, but Sarando’s jumping was quicker than the novice Aikman’s and by the time they had jumped the fourth last, Kennedy had really started to turn the screw, and the talented Aikman had no real response.

Sarando did lose a lot of momentum with his mistake at the second last fence, he got in too close to the fence and hit the top of it quite hard, and it looked for a brief moment as though Aikman might be able to stage a rally and make Sarando work hard, but Webber’s gelding soon picked up again, jumped the last well, and drew clear on the run-in before being eased down with the result in safe-keeping.

The bare form of this performance looks strong, and Sarando can be expected to come on with the race under his belt. Aikman is a 140-rated hurdler who had made an encouraging chasing debut here at Carlisle two and a half weeks previously. He was race-fit (he had had a run over hurdles prior to that first run over fences too) and he was readily brushed aside by Sarando from four fences out. Cross Kennon may have needed the race, may not have taken to fences, or both, but he is rated 154 over timber having finished a fine fourth in the World Hurdle last season, and he was easily beaten off here as soon as Sarando and Aikman picked up the pace early on the second circuit.

Interestingly, Money Trix took this graduation chase in 2009 before going on to finish second in two successive Lexus Chases, and Hey Big Spender won it last year, both times it has produced a good field and this year looked no exception on paper.

The logical race for Sarando now is the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. That race often goes to a second-season chaser with a touch of class, and age, experience and ratings-wise Sarando fits all the trends. He will pick up a penalty for this win and obviously that makes things harder against those who have been laid out for the race especially, keeping their handicap marks protected, but this was an impressive performance, it proved his very close second to Quito De La Roque in the Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree last season wasn’t a fluke, despite starting at 50/1, and that form looks considerably stronger now than it did at the time. Given that he stays well and is generally a safe jumper, he is interesting now for staying handicap chases, and he has a chance in the Hennessy.

7th November 2011