Horses To Follow » Tarotino


You had to have eyes everywhere during Punchestown week, and Tarotino ran out a really impressive winner of a two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Bangor on Friday. He was settled just off the pace by Wayne Hutchinson in the early stages, but he took it up about seven from home and just went further and further clear. He really never looked in danger. He is a super jumper, and that helped him come right away from some useful if fairly exposed performers Sou’Wester and Templer.

Tarotino is hugely progressive over fences now. A 119-rated hurdler when he was with Nicky Henderson, he shaped with a degree of promise on his chase debut at Huntingdon last November, when he got to within six lengths of last month’s Manifesto Chase winner Tartak. That was his first run for Alan King and his first race for 19 months, and it promised much better to come. However, he disappointed on his next two subsequent runs, but over two and a half miles, both at Wincanton, both on soft ground, and the suspicion was that it was the ground and not the distance nor the track which caused him to under-perform.

He resumed the winning thread when dotting up at Doncaster on good ground in February, then followed up by landing a decent novices’ chase at Kempton, again on good ground, when he was driven out to beat Soixante, who had beaten the high class subsequent Grand Annual and Red Rum Chase winner Oh Crick on his previous start. The handicapper has raised him 15lb to a mark of 145 for his latest win, which is a bit disappointing, I was hoping he would get less of a hike, but he is progressive enough to take that type of hike in his stride. He is only seven still, he has been off the track for a year and a half and he has raced just six times over fences. It would be surprising if Alan King did not train him like a good horse next season, and the Paddy Power Gold Cup looks like the right early-season target. A mark of 145 should see him get into the Paddy Power around the 11st mark. He wouldn’t want to go rising through the handicap any more with a prep run, but 145 should be fine, and he could be a leading player in that.

1st May 2009