Horses To Follow » Burton Port

Burton Port

Burton Port put up a fine display to beat the well-backed Paul Nicholls horse Massasoit in a two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase at Bangor on Tuesday. Always travelling well behind a fair pace that was set by AP McCoy on Al Co, his jumping was good throughout. Andrew Tinkler had to shake him up a little after they had jumped the fourth last fence, but the response was good. He jumped the third last, the last on the far side well, and he very quickly took it up on the outside and led into the home straight. Massasoit moved up threateningly in behind, and the pair of them jumped the second last together. From there, you would have forgiven Burton Port if he had wilted, if Massasoit had proved the stronger. Both horses were making their seasonal debuts, both were making their chasing debuts, but Massasoit was rated 8lb superior over fences. It is true that Burton Port enjoyed the run of the race, just behind the pace, but he earned that position with his accurate jumping while Massasoit’s was a little hit and miss, and was particularly untidy at the first fence on the final circuit, when he was way out to his right, for which he received a corrective strike from Ruby Walsh. The pair of them went toe to toe down to the final fence, but the Nicky Henderson gelding had plenty in reserve. He picked up at the final obstacle about a half a length in front, and he proved the stronger up the run in to pull away and win by four lengths, with the pair of them pulling clear of their rivals.

This was a hugely encouraging chase debut from Trevor Hemmings’s gelding, and he can go on from this now. He has had plenty of experience over hurdles, and he did win a point-to-point at Summerhill on his fourth attempt between the flags, but he is still only five. A decent novice hurdler last season over two miles, he improved markedly for the step up to two and a half miles when he finished fourth to Big Eared Fran in a big novices’ handicap hurdle at Sandown on Imperial Cup day. From the family of the top class Blazing Walker, it was always as a chaser that Burton Port was going to make his mark, however, and he should progress again for Wednesday’s experience. He gave the impression as well that he should stay further than two and a half miles over fences. He is interesting.

11th November 2009