Past Winners » Charm School


I still think that there is a big pot in Charm School, I still think that he is an under-rated horse when he has his conditions, and 9/1 is too big about him for the November Handicap on Saturday.

There is always a danger that, when you have a soft spot for a horse – and I think I have a soft spot for Charm School – that you fail to see his failings. But I have still to be convinced that he is not the classy horse that I think he is, and he still looks potentially really well handicapped to me on a mark of 98.

You can easily forgive him his run in the Cambridgeshire last time. The ground didn’t come up as soft as it usually does for that race, it was actually good to firm ground, which was all against him. Also, all weekend at Newmarket the far side was where you wanted to be. Charm School was drawn in stall 21, middle-to-far-side, and I thought that Jimmy Fortune would try to wheedle his way over towards the far rail and mount his challenge among horses, but he went straight as a gun barrel up the centre of the track, seeing daylight the whole way and shunning the favoured far side. He really was up against it racing like that.

Charm School is at least a 10-furlong horse, which is what you usually need for the Cambridgeshire (a nine-furlong race) when the ground is on the easy side, given how fast they usually go, but it all happened a little quickly for him on the fast ground at Newmarket. There is the obvious worry, therefore, about his stamina for the 12-furlong trip of the November Handicap on easy ground, but there is every chance that he will get it. There is also a real chance that he will improve for it.

On his first run since his mid-season break in September, he stayed on well to win over a mile and three furlongs at Kempton. On his next run, his last before the Cambridgeshire, he stayed on well from the back to finish fifth in the John Smith’s Handicap at Newbury over 10 furlongs. He is out of a Rainbow Quest mare whose family raced and won over 10 and 11 furlongs. It could be that a mile and a half is what he wants.

The ground is going to be at least on the soft side, probably softer and, while that will place a premium on stamina, it will also suit Charm School well. He is at his best when he can get his toe in. He remains a potentially classy individual who is still relatively unexposed, he ran a cracker at this meeting last year to finish third to Invincible Force in a good handicap on soft ground over an inadequate seven furlongs, and he won his maiden at the track. His trainer John Gosden doesn’t have many runners in the November Handicap – he has had just three representatives in the last 10 years – but he has won it three times in the past and his runners in these end-of-season handicaps are to be respected. A rating of 98 for Charm School is ideal for the race – four of the last five winners were rated between 95 and 99 – and, as long as top weight Tastahil stays in the race, as looks likely at this stage, he will have a nice racing weight of 8st 12lb. All looks set for a big run.

Kings Destiny is interesting from the Michael Jarvis yard, given that the trainer also had King Destiny’s Ascot conqueror Opinion Poll and Rainbow Peak as options for the race. Like Charm School, a son of Dubai Destination, Kings Destiny ran a cracker to finish second to his stable companion at Ascot. Opinion Poll could be very good indeed, and the pair of them had it between them from a long way out. The handicapper has raised him just 2lb for that run, which isn’t harsh, and all ground types seem to come alike to him. He is a danger.

Salden Licht would be interesting if you knew that he was a definite runner. He was noted staying on really nicely behind the afore-mentioned Rainbow Peak over 10 furlongs at Newbury last time. A 1lb hike is not harsh, he was a good three-year-old for Andre Fabre, he obviously handles the ground, and he gave the impression last time that he may well improve for a step up to a mile and a half.

Hillview Boy is also interesting off just a 3lb higher mark than the mark off which he finished second to the highly talented Hunterview last time, when he didn’t enjoy the run of the race at all. He has won at the track and he goes on soft ground. However, I am happy to back just Charm School for now, and wait for the declarations, the ground and the draw (high-drawn horses historically do very well in this big-field handicap, and three of the last four winners have come from one of the three outside boxes) before having another look.