Horses To Follow » Big Fella Thanks

Big Fella Thanks

Big Fella Thanks was really impressive in landing the Skybet Chase at Doncaster on Saturday. After looking unlucky when unshipping his rider at the third last on his previous outing, there were no mistakes this time. Christian Williams got him nicely settled in mid division in the early stages, got him settled into a nice rhythm in the early stages before making his move around by Rose Hill, taking it up at the top of the home straight and powering clear to win.

He is bound to get a significant hike up the ratings for this, but it is probable that the mark of 136 off which he raced here significantly under-estimated his ability over fences. It is the same as his hurdles rating, and he was always going to be a better chaser than he was a hurdler. This was his first win over fences and, with this confidence booster under his girth, there is no telling the heights he can scale.

Trainer Paul Nicholls said afterwards that the four-mile National Hunt Chase would be his Cheltenham target, but I’m not so sure about the wisdom of that move. While Big Fella Thanks stays three miles well, we don’t know for certain that he will stay four, another 33% further. Gungadu was forced down the four-mile route in 2007 when the Nicholls/Barber/Findlay team had Denman for the Sun Alliance, and he failed to stay. If they are intent on avoiding What A Friend in the Sun Alliance with Big Fella Thanks, the William Hill might be the race for him. Novices generally don’t have a good record in that contest, but novices who had previously proved themselves in competitive handicaps do. Big Fella Thanks is most progressive, he is just seven and has raced only five times over fences, and he should be well worth following.

24th January, 2009