Horses To Follow » Air Force One

Air Force One

Air Force One ran disappointingly in the Totesport Bowl at Aintree on Thursday, no question, and it is always dangerous to put up horses who have run inexplicably disappointingly, but it may be unwise to read too much into this performance. This run was simply too bad to be true. He was getting 5lb from Madison Du Berlais, and he finished 40 lengths behind him, which doesn’t make a lot of sense given that he gave him 3lb in the Hennessy at Newbury last November and just went down by three lengths, a mistake at the second last possibly making the difference between victory and defeat. Charlie Mann’s horse never looked a bit happy on the tight left-handed turning Aintree track last Thursday, and the trainer was noticeably reticent about the horse’s chances in a pre-race interview.

I find it difficult to read the Mann yard at the best of times, but it would make sense if the trainer was planning to have Air Force One at his peak for Punchestown. The Co Kildare track’s festival is ideal for Air Force One, right-handed, galloping and usually staged on good ground, and the horse is owned by Kildare man Brian Walsh. Air Force One put up one of the best performances of his career to date in landing the Grade 1 Ellier Developments Chase, when he was allowed bowl along in front, at last year’s festival, and it would be surprising if the Punchestown Gold Cup had not been high on his agenda for a little while now. He has been disappointing on the face of it on his three runs since the Hennessy, and of course there is a chance that the horse will never fulfil the immense potential that he had at the beginning of the season, but I am happy to allow him one more chance at Punchestown, as long as the ground is good. Given his recent form, he could be under-rated by bookmakers and punters.

© The Irish Field, 11th April 2009