Horses To Follow » Montbazon


Montbazon ran a nice race to finish 10th in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday. He wasn’t left at the start, like Affaire D’Honneur was, but he was crowded out of it a little on the far side on the run to the first flight, and he jumped the obstacle awkwardly, with the result that he was disputing last place with Affaire D’Honneur as they passed the winning post first time.

Still third last as they started the turn for home, Alan King’s horse was moved to the outside by Denis O’Regan, and he made nice ground early in the home straight. An awkward jump at the third last flight didn’t help, and his rider was not overly hard on him from there once his winning chance had gone, but he continued to stay on among horses all the way up the home straight.

He only finished 10th in the end, but he may be worth watching now as the ground starts to improve. The heavy ground on Saturday was all against him, he did well to run as well as he did on the ground. Also, it was his seasonal debut, his first run since last July. He should progress for it.

Montbazon is nine now, but this was just his 10th race over hurdles, he is a relatively lightly-raced nine-year-old. It is interesting that he holds entries in the Arkle and the JLT, he has probably been schooled over fences at home, but he has never run over fences, and you have to think that a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham is the way to go, probably the County Hurdle again. He should be happier on the better ground that he should encounter at Cheltenham.

He goes well at Cheltenham and, specifically, at the Cheltenham Festival. He was fourth in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2012 and he finished third in the County Hurdle there in 2014 off a mark of 140, beaten just a length and a half by Lac Fontana in a race in which he may have done even better had he hit the front a little later. Interestingly, he finished 16th of 20 in the Betfair Hurdle on soft ground on his last run before Cheltenham that year, so there is a precedent there.

The handicapper has dropped him 2lb to a mark of 138, which is a nice bonus. Even if he does not end up in the County Hurdle, he will be interesting when he gets back on goodish ground, wherever that might be.

13th February 2016