Horses To Follow » Petit Robin

Petit Robin

It was difficult not to be impressed with Petit Robin’s performance in winning the two-mile handicap chase at Newbury on Saturday. An habitual front-runner, he was surrounded by similarly-minded animals when the tapes went, but nothing else could lead him over the first two fences, and nothing could get near him until he pulled up after crossing the winning line, such was the potency of his pace and the accuracy of jumping.

Nicky Henderson’s horses continue to be in flying form and, in hindsight, Petit Robin was obviously thrown in on a mark of 132, a fact that was spotted beforehand by those who sent him off the 4/5 favourite for what was ostensibly a competitive handicap chase. Runner-up It’s Crucial is useful, and Petit Robin came home 13 lengths clear of him, with a similar distance back to the third horse Saintsaire, who had won the last two renewals of this race. Furthermore, the time was top class, by far the fastest comparative time of the day and a full 0.3secs/furlong faster than the Racing Post par.

Talk of the Champion Chase afterwards was hushed, as the Robin Des Pres gelding had some 54lb to find with Master Minded on ratings, but the handicapper has raised him a massive 27lb for his Newbury win, so he is exactly half way there. (Is that a coincidence?) This was just the third steeplechase race of his life, and he is only five years old, so there could still be considerable improvement to come. Remember that Master Minded was rated 145 at this time last year, and ended the season on a mark of 186. And actually, with the obvious exception of Master Minded, the two-mile championship chase division may not be that strong this year with both Tidal Bay and Voy Por Ustedes possibly destined to sidestep the race, and Noland and Jack The Giant both set to step up in distance. The 23/1 that is available on Betfair about Petit Robin for the Champion Chase at the time of writing looks big.

© The Irish Field, 6th December, 2008