Horses To Follow » Royal County Star

Royal County Star

It looked like Royal County Star was going to run an eye-catching race in defeat in the Grade 3 An Uaimh Chase at Navan on Saturday. Hunted around out the back in the early stages, he moved noticeably well into the home straight under David Casey as Watson Lake and Glenfinn Captain duelled up front. Both of those horses came under pressure between the last two fences, with Watson Lake not finding as much as it looked he might, and Glenfinn Captain getting in tight to the final fence, with the result that the others were let back into a race that looked like it had turned into a match. Royal County Star was still just fifth jumping the last, but he jumped that fence well, and Casey got a good tune out of him up the run in to force him home by a head from long odds-on favourite Glenfinn Captain.

This was a big performance from Royal County Star on the book. Rated 16lb and 14lb inferior to Glenfinn Captain and Watson Lake respectively, he was getting just 2lb from each of them on Saturday. The proximity of 131-rated Emotional Article and the 133-rated Justpourit in fourth and fifth places, just a half a length and a length further back, as well as the slow time of the race (almost six seconds slower than the 0-116 handicap chase run over the same course and distance later in the day), does put a bit of a question mark over the form, but this was Royal County Star’s first run since he was pulled up in the Hennessy at Newbury last November, and he will probably come on appreciably for it.

Best on good ground, Tony Martin has probably had a spring campaign in mind for the 10-year-old since November, and this run should have put him spot on for his next intended target, probably another crack at the Irish National. He has been allotted a weight of 10st 10lb for that contest, which equated to a rating of 145, just 5lb higher than his rating before last Saturday, and that is fair. If top weight Notre Pere runs, that weight will give him every chance. He appeared to be out-stayed by Hear The Echo when second in the race last year, but the ground was just on the soft side last year, and he is a year older and a year stronger this year. Furthermore, he would meet Hear The Echo on 4lb better terms compared to last year if they both line up, and he would meet Notre Pere, four lengths behind in third place last year, on 13lb better terms. He has to be on your Irish National shortlist at this stage.

28th March, 2009