Horses To Follow » Planet Of Sound

Planet Of Sound

There were a couple of horses to take out of the Arkle for me, and Planet Of Sound was one. Philip Hobbs’s gelding got the first fence – a crucial obstacle in a two-mile novices’ chase at the Cheltenham Festival, when so much depends on adopting and maintaining a position – and made another slight mistake at the second. After that, he was always fighting an uphill battle.

He did jump well in the main thereafter, with the notable exception of the fifth last, the one between the two open ditches, when he made another mistake, which cost him more ground at a crucial stage in what turned out to be a rough enough race for those in behind the leaders. He made good ground when scrubbed up by Richard Johnson down the hill and stayed on well up the home straight to take third place. It never looked likely that he would trouble Forpadydeplasterer, but it was still a hell of a run to finish so close in a race that didn’t work out for him at all.

There is every chance that this year’s renewal of the Arkle will prove to be a good one. Despite the early exit of favourite Tatenen, some of the right horses were involved at the finish (the winner and the runner-up were two of just a handful of contenders who were rated 140 or higher over hurdles) and the time was really good for novices, just a second and a half slower than the time that it took the highest-rated chaser in training, Master Minded, to complete the same course and distance the following day on faster ground.

It is significant that Philip Hobbs nominated Planet Of Sound as his best chance of having a Festival winner before the meeting, in front of Copper Bleu, Massini’s Maguire, Presenting Copper, Cockney Trucker and a couple of others who were well thought-of, and it may be that the son of Kayf Tara will be better suited by Aintree’s flat track. Both of his wins over fences were achieved at Newbury and, although he won his maiden hurdle at Chepstow, his best performances in that code have been at Newbury and Haydock, both left-handed flat tracks like Aintree. He has run just four times over fences now and there is probably significant improvement forthcoming. Given that he has won twice over two miles and three furlongs at Newbury, the new Manifesto Novices’ Chase, a Grade 2 contest run over two and a half miles, could be the race for him at Aintree more than the Maghull Chase over two miles, and he would be a big player in that if he takes his chance.

© The Irish Field, 21st March, 2009