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Striking Article

Striking Article put up an impressive performance to land the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Wetherby on Wednesday. Sent to the front from flagfall by Denis O’Regan, he was a little awkward at the second fence, and again at the first in the home straight on the first circuit, but apart from those two slight errors, his jumping was sound. He got into a nice even rhythm up front and made ground on his rivals nearly every time they left the ground. His rivals did allow him an easy enough time of it up front, but when Mandingo Chief did try to put it up to him going down the back straight, he simply couldn’t match the leaders cruising speed or jumping. There is also the fact that favourite Evelith Echo was slightly hampered when the ill-fated Marrel fell in front of him at the second fence in the back straight, but it is difficult to convince yourself that the best horse didn’t win the race. They concertinaed up behind Striking Ambition as they rounded the home turn, and it looked like any one of four horses could be a real challenger, but O’Regan was only allowing his horse take a breather and, as soon as he asked him to extend over the third last, the race was really over as a contest as he and Striking Article came clear to win readily. The horse did pull up lame after crossing the line – it was a race that was full of mis-hap on a day that was also regrettably full of mis-hap – but apparently he is okay, and needs just a couple of weeks on the easy list.

This was just Howard Johnson’s gelding’s seventh start over fences. Winner of his two bumpers and one of his three novice hurdles – in fairness, he was well outclassed in the 2008 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – he showed some ability as a novice chaser last season, but his jumping often let him down. He was a lot more polished in that department on Wednesday, and he can progress from here now as long as he continues to jump as fluently. He seemed to appreciate being allowed to lead, and he got into a nice jumping rhythm as a result, and the flat track and good ground seemed to suit. He is certain to go up a few pounds for this, but he can continue to progress. The few weeks’ break may not be a bad thing, as his trainer says that he is at his best when he is fresh, and he will be of interest whenever he reappears.

14th October 2009