Horses To Follow » Tartak


Arkle Trophy contender Tartak was another who didn’t get the run of the race at Cheltenham. A slight mistake at the first fence, and another at the second, just when everyone is trying to get the perfect racing position, didn’t help, and saw him obliged to settle further back in the field than ideal, but it was an incident at the top of the hill that was most detrimental to Tartak’s chances. The fifth last fence on the old course comes just before the horses turn to their left and face up to the final open ditch. There were six horses virtually in line on the approach to that fence, all looking to get as close to the rail as they could before the bend. Tartak missed the fence a little. It wasn’t a bad mistake, but it was enough to leave him a half a length down going into the bend, with the result that he got squeezed out between Panjo Bere and Follow The Plan as the field concertinaed. Paddy Brennan had to check him up, he lost ground and momentum, and he jumped the open ditch in eighth place, six lengths behind the leader, instead of in fourth and ideally positioned.

Despite that mis-hap, Tartak was still able to get himself back into a good position on the run down the hill and was third turning for home. On the run to the last, it looked like he might be involved, but he just faded up the run-in to finish fifth, which was perfectly forgivable given how much running he had to do to get there. He may not have been good enough to beat Forpadydeplasterer anyway, but he is better than the bare result suggests.

There is a new Grade 2 two-and-a-half-mile novices’ chase at Aintree this year, the Manifesto Chase, and that could be the race for Tartak. He stays two and a half miles well, and his four wins over hurdles and fences have been on flat tracks. It may be that he is better on a flat track than he is going up and down hills, and he is another for the Aintree shortlist.

© The Sunday Times, 22nd March, 2009