Horses To Follow » Knockgraffon
Knockgraffon put up a really nice performance on his chasing bow to finish third in the two-and-a-half-mile novices’ handicap chase at Carlisle on Sunday.
Always close up behind the leaders and racing along the inside, the Flemensfirth gelding was a little keener than ideal through the early stages of the race, but his jumping was good for a debutant. He moved up in between horses at the last fence in the back straight, and his rider actually had to restrain him as they raced around the home turn to prevent him hitting the front too early. He travelled well into the home straight, around the by-passed fourth last fence, and he shaped as a big danger to the leader Gurkha Brave when he flew the third last. Moved towards the inside, he just couldn’t get any closer to the leader, who found plenty in front. He was still a length down at the second last fence, and he just tired from there, as his early exertions and lack of a recent run probably took their toll. Even so, he kept on to the line to take third place, holding off the renewed effort of Pistol Park for that spot.
This was a fine effort from Dan Skelton’s horse on his debut over fences. This was a solidly-run race, run in a decent time, just 0.03secs/furlong slower than Racing Post par and 2.3secs faster than the time that Seeyouatmidnight clocked in beating Bristol De Mai in the Colin Parker Intermediate Chase run over the same course and distance later in the day. It was an impressive time even allowing for the fact that they by-passed the fourth last. Also, it was Knockgraffon’s first run since he won a novices’ hurdle at Newton Abbot last March, so it is understandable that he was keen and fresh through the early stages of the race.
He was a progressive novice hurdler last season, he won twice and he finished second twice in five outings, and he wasn’t disgraced in finishing seventh in the Imperial Cup on his fifth run. But he is a big strapping individual who is built to jump fences. He is only six, he had bundles of scope for progression as a steeplechaser, and he should improve again for a step up to three miles. His handicap rating of 132 over fences is fair, it is effectively his mark over hurdles, but he has the potential to be significantly better over fences than he was over hurdles. Connections have lots of options now, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next, but he would be of most interest in a handicap chase now, ideally over slightly further than two and a half miles.
30th October 2016