Horses To Follow » Song Of Songs

Song Of Songs

Song Of Songs oozed class when landing the two-mile novices’ chase at Sandown on Saturday.

Held up fourth of the four runners behind a strong pace that was set by Deep Purple, McCoy was sitting still as the leader and Resless D’Artaix kicked for home from the Pond Fence. A slightly slow jump at the last by Song Of Songs gave the gallant Deep Purple a chance and, although Song Of Songs had travelled well through the race, it wasn’t certain how much he would find up the hill. He found plenty. McCoy only had to give JP McManus’s gelding a little squeeze, and he eased past to record a facile win, the margin of which grossly under-estimated his superiority.

Sometimes small fields can throw up shock results and unreliable form lines, but that is usually down to the fact that the early pace can be slow in these race, and that wasn’t the case here with Deep Purple setting out to make it from the start. The time of the race, over two second faster than the handicap chase run over the same course and distance a half and hour later, backs up that notion.

Runner-up Deep Purple is a useful performer, winner of a Grade 2 contest at Ascot in December and sent off the clear second favourite for the Wayward Lad Chase at Kempton over Christmas. He did disappoint there, but he didn’t get to lead that day, and there is no reason to assume that he did not run his race on Saturday, given that he was able to enjoy himself in front.

Song Of Songs has now raced just three times over fences. On his chasing debut at Newbury in January, he finished third behind the highly talented pair Planet Of Sound and French Opera, and he won his subsequent start at long odds-on at Leicester. A really useful hurdler last year, he ran a cracker in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, delivering a telling challenge on the run to the last before fading up the hill to finish seventh. Although he disappointed when sent off as favourite for the two-mile John Smith’s Extra Smooth Handicap Hurdle at Aintree, it may still be that he is at his best on a flat track and on good ground. The handicapper has put him up 15lb to a mark of 144 for Saturday’s performance. That doesn’t leave him too far off the top two-mile novice chasers, and it would be interesting if James Fanshawe allowed him take his chance in the Maghull Chase at Aintree next month, where he might be allowed go off at a decent price against the battle-weary warriors from the Arkle at Cheltenham.

© The Irish Field, 14th March, 2009