Horses To Follow » Wins Now

Wins Now

Wins Now finally got off the mark over fences when he landed a two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase at Tipperary on Sunday. A little sketchy over the first couple of fences, JP McManus’s gelding soon warmed to his task, and travelled easily throughout just behind the pace. He jumped his way to the front at the end of the back straight, and quickly opened up a lead on his rivals. Slippers Madden was anxious to ensure that nothing was going to come from behind while at the same time ensuring that his horse had the easiest possible time of it, and he kept on well over the last two fences to win well, eased down, probably with a lot more in hand than the eight-length winning margin.

Admittedly this wasn’t the best beginners’ chase ever run, but it wasn’t bad either. Runner-up, Glacial Promise, is a promising horse of Leonard Whitmore’s who was dropping back down to the distance over which he had won his maiden hurdle having run well but having appeared to lack for stamina over three miles on his previous run at Wexford. Wins Now beat him well, and the pair were clear of their field. Of course, it is still some way from the heights that appeared to be within Wins Now’s compass as a hurdler, but it was a win, and it was a significant step in the right direction.

Trainer Boots Madden said afterwards that the Galway Plate was the target now if he gets into the race, and that is interesting. According to Tony Keenan’s excellent Galway Races Guide book, he fits a lot of the trends that you look for in a Galway Plate winner. As an eight-year-old, he is not the ideal age (six and seven-year-olds have apparently won 60% of the races and supplied 45% of the places from 31% of the runners since 1999), but he is an unusual eight-year-old in that he is lightly-raced over fences. Sunday’s race was just his sixth over fences, and he has never run in a handicap chase. It is interesting that all of the last six Galway Plate winners had run in a maximum of three handicap chases previously, and the last two were making their handicap chase debut.

Besides the trends, Wins Now has a lot to recommend him. He is potentially really well handicapped. He was rated 121 before Sunday’s race, and was raised just 3lb for winning it, which is not harsh. The Galway Plate is an early-closer, but he will carry a 3lb penalty as a result of this win, so he will race off a mark of 124, which looks lenient when you consider that he is rated 139 over hurdles. He was beaten less than five lengths in a Supreme Novices’ Hurdle after making a fairly bad mistake at the second last, and he finished second to Tidal Bay in the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. That is top class novice hurdle form.

His sketchiness over the first few fences on Sunday is a little bit of a worry in the context of a Galway Plate, but the two miles and six furlongs and the prospect of easy ground should give him enough time to get into a rhythm, and there is enough fat in his current odds of 16/1 to allow you take a chance. Also, he jumped a little to his right on occasion on Sunday. It wasn’t the first time he did that, so the right-handed orientation of Ballybrit should suit. He should improve for Sunday’s run, his first since he disappointed in a beginners’ chase at Gowran Park last February, and he could be a big player in the Galway Plate if he gets into it. His mark of 124 leaves him borderline at this stage but, if you back him ante post now, as long as he is declared for the race, you get your money back of he is balloted out. If he doesn’t get into the Plate, Madden is talking about the novices’ chase as an alternative, a race in which he would also be of interest.

19th July 2009

© The Irish Field, 25th July 2009