Horses To Follow » Tranquil Sea

Tranquil Sea

Tranquil Sea put up a really nice performance to land the Grade 3 two-mile chase, the Poplar Square Chase, at Naas last Saturday. Settled nicely back in fourth or fifth place of the eight runners in the early stages behind a decent pace on the ground set by Made In Taipan, Andrew McNamara seemed to be keen to chart a wide course, possibly in search of better ground, possibly to enable Neliius Hayes’s gelding get a good view of his fences. His jumping wasn’t bad, he got in a little tight to a couple down the far side, but he was clever when he did, and he pinged the fifth last and the fourth last on the side of the track before the turn in, which took him effortlessly into the front rank. He again had to shorten up at the third last, the last before the home turn, but his rider seemed to be happy enough to allow him drop just off the leaders going around the home turn. He travelled easily down to the second last on the inside, just behind Made In Taipan and Trafford Lad, neither of whom had been asked for an effort either, but Made In Taipan made a bad mistake at the second last and unshipped his rider. It is impossible to know how he would have fared had he not, but Tranquil Sea did run out an easy winner. McNamara wasn’t hard on him between the last two fences as Trafford Lad came under pressure and Joncol stayed on on the near side. He jumped the last well and was really just kept up to his work up the run-in without his rider having to ask him any serious questions. He was value for a fair bit more than the one-length winning margin. This was a perfect start to the season for the Edward O’Grady-trained gelding. A top class novice hurdler two seasons ago when he beat Fiveforthree and Trafford Lad in the Grade 1 Land Rover Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, he looked set to take his place among the top novice chasers last season when he was impressive in winning on his chasing bow at Cork, so it was disappointing that he didn’t win again last season. No reason was ever put forward for his poor run in the Drinmore, and he tired on the ground in the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase, having his first run in two and a half months. He was potentially well-handicapped as a result in the Jewson Chase, but he didn’t jump well enough to give himself a chance. However, he did stay on well that day, and he ran his best race of the season to finish second to Equus Maximus in the big Betfair two-and-a-half-mile novices’ chase at the Punchestown Festival. He jumped well that day, and he and the winner had it between them from a fair way out, the Willie Mullins horse just doing Tranquil Sea for stamina over two miles and five furlongs on the heavy ground.

There is every chance that Tranquil Sea can now begin to fulfil his potential over fences. He is still only seven years old, and it may be that he just needed last year to grow into himself. It always looked like he would do better over fences than over hurdles, yet he is now rated 6lb lower over fences than over hurdles. That makes him interesting as a candidate for one of the big two-and-a-half-mile handicap chases, and it is significant that his trainer spoke about the Paddy Power at Cheltenham next Saturday as a potential target. It is a bit of a worry that he didn’t jump well over the Paddy Power course and distance in the Jewson, but he sweated up a little before that race, so he is worth another chance. The English handicapper has given him a mark of 148, 6lb higher than his chase mark, but the same as his hurdles mark, and he should still be competitive off that if he does take his chance in the Paddy Power. As long as top weight Our Vic takes his chance, which looks likely at this stage, he will have 10st 13lb to carry, and that is just about ideal for the Paddy Power. He is potentially significantly better than he has been able to show over fences to date.

31st October 2009

© The Irish Field, 7th November 2009