Past Winners » Morito Du Berlais


It is possible that Cup Final is a really nicely-handicapped horse on a mark of 125. He is out of the great race mare Asian Maze, but her first foal Chinatown Boy, also by Presenting, was beaten in a novice handicap chase at Taunton yesterday off a mark of 119 and Cup Final hasn’t done anything yet to suggest he should be as short as 6/4 in a race that is as competitive as this.

Knight Of Noir, whom we backed in the EBF Final when he was disappointing, is interesting at a double-figure price on his first run since, but I prefer Morito Du Berlais.

Paul Nicholls’ horse was disappointing in his first season over hurdles last year but, like so many from the yard, once he had a breathing operation over the summer he looked a different proposition when winning at Exeter last month.

Sent off at 14/1 and the stable’s second string, he was ridden patiently over a trip just shy of three miles and crept into it nicely early in the home straight. He improved to hit the front without too much fuss at the final flight, and he kept on well to come three lengths clear up the run-in. They hadn’t gone that hard, he didn’t win just because of stamina, and he should be fine over this shorter trip on soft ground.

Also, that race came at a time when most of Paul Nicholls’ horses were needing their first runs of the season. Given that he was unfancied there, he may well have come on quite considerably for that run.

The fact that the tongue-tie is reapplied today was unexpected, after his breathing operation, but hopefully there is nothing significant behind that. Even on the bare form of his Exeter win, however, a mark of 120 looks more than fair, and that is without the potential for improvement. He is only five, he has had just four runs over hurdles, he is one for one since his breathing operation and he is a half-brother to Nikita Du Berlais who was one of France’s premier staying hurdlers a couple of seasons ago. He could be a well-handicapped horse and his strength in the market this morning is encouraging.