Horses To Follow » Conna Castle

Conna Castle

One of the horses to take out of the Thyestes Chase for me was Conna Castle. Settled out the back in the early stages by Paddy Flood – he was actually stone last jumping the first fence – Jimmy Mangan’s gelding’s fluent jumping carried him through the field to the point where he found himself in third place just behind long-time leaders Chelsea Harbour and Erics Charm, with Flood having to take a pull, as they made the long run around the home turn. He picked up alongside Chelsea Harbour in a share of the lead at the third last, the first in the home straight, but he was already beginning to tire when a mistake at the second last, from which Flood did well to recover, put an end to his winning chance, and he faded to finish seventh.

This was a cracking effort from the son of Germany under 11st 5lb which, taking jockeys’ claims into account, was actually the highest weight carried by any horse in the race. The Thyestes is a race for the low-weigths, especially on ground as soft as it was on Thursday. Before last Thursday, no horse had carried more than 10st 8lb to victory since 2000. More than that, no horse carrying 11st or more had reached the first three in that time – that’s 24 horses over the course of eight renewals, and none of them carried 11st or more.

This was Conna Castle’s first attempt at three miles, and he just didn’t see it out, not on the really soft ground anyway. Mangan said beforehand that he thought that he was just coming to himself this season, and that appears to have been the case. It is also probable that the cheekpieces which he wore for the first time here had the desired effect. It may be that Conna Castle is worth trying again at three miles on better ground, but it is more likely that two and a half miles is his optimum. Remember that he beat the top class Big Zeb in the Powers Gold Cup over two and a half last March. There is a chance that the cheekpieces will make him just a little bit sharper over that trip and, even at the age of 10, he could be a potent force over that distance this spring.

22nd January, 2009