Horses To Follow » Foxtail Hill
Foxtail Hill left the impression at Kempton on his previous run that he would improve for a switch back to a left-handed track, and he duly did that at Cheltenham last Saturday when he spread-eagled his field to land the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase.
Sent to the front from flagfall by Jamie Bargary, his jumping was really good, and he had most of his rivals under pressure from early. He was out to his left again on a couple of occasions, but that was not a real disadvantage at Cheltenham, where you continually turn to your left. Clear from the third last fence, he kept on well over the last two fences and up the hill to get home by a length from Saphir Du Rheu in a good time, fully three second faster than the time that Royal Vacation clocked in winning the novices’ handicap chase run over the same course and distance a half an hour earlier. The runner-up did close significantly on the run-in, but it never really looked like he was going to catch Nigel Twiston-Davies’ horse.
The Dr Massini gelding is seriously progressive now. Well beaten in both his runs over fences last season, he fell on his debut this term, but he has progressed with every run since. He jumped markedly to his left when winning a two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Kempton that fell apart a little two weeks previously, but there was no suggestion that Saturday’s race fell apart. It is rock solid form.
The handicapper raised Foxtail Hill by 7lb, but he should still be able to go beyond his new mark of 140. The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival is the obvious race for him now. It is left-handed, which is crucial, and it is back over more or less this course and distance, just moved from the New Course to the Old Course. A mark of 140 sees him just in underneath the threshold for that race. He handles this soft ground well, but he also goes on good ground, he could even be more effective on good ground, a surface on which his fluent attacking style could be even more potent than it is on soft ground.
28th January 2017