Horses To Follow » Galant Nuit

Galant Nuit

Galant Nuit was a game winner of the three-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday, the Servo Trophy, and it is probable that there is even better to come. Ferdy Murphy’s gelding was settled out the back of the field in the early stages by Graham Lee, and cleverly steered towards the outside to ensure that he raced on the best of the soft ground. He wasn’t that clever at the second last ditch on the far side, just as he was beginning to progress towards the leaders, he was a little starey at it and just about got to the other side, but it only halted his momentum a little, and the ground was so soft that nothing was happening that quickly anyway. Apart from that, his jumping was very good. He moved up on the outside going down the hill, moved up just behind long-time leader Hello Bud around the home turn, jumped the last a length behind the leader, disputing second place with Don’t Push It and Russian Trigger, and stayed on up the hill better than the other four to get home by a half a length from Don’t Push It in a thriller.

A couple of notes on the beaten horses. Hello Bud ran a cracker, he led almost all the way, he still travelled well around the home turn and he kept on really well to take third. He has won on this soft ground before, but his best form is on fast ground, and he could be seen to better effect over this type of distance or even further on better ground. However, he is 11 years old now, almost 12, his current mark is his highest ever, and it is difficult to think that he is still improving. Don’t Push It also ran a cracker, he stayed the distance well and could progress again now. However, Galant Nuit has much more in his favour than the runner-up. For starters, he won the race. As a winner, it is possible that he would have found more if Don’t Push It had found more. He is only five years old, and this was just his seventh chase, so it is almost certain that there is better to come. He was a really impressive winner of a near-three-mile chase at Uttoxeter this time last year, and he ran an eye-catching race when staying on from the rear to finish sixth in the amateur riders’ race at Cheltenham’s October meeting. Given how strong he was in the market beforehand, it is probable that Ferdy Murphy has had this race in mind for him for a while (ironically, the plan was to put him up for sale the evening before the race), but there is still the prospect of more to come. He stays well, he travels well, he jumps well, he handles this soft ground well, and he has a really nice progressive profile now. The handicapper has put him up 7lb for this, and that is more than reasonable. His new mark of 133 should still under-estimate his ability. He could be a Welsh National horse if Murphy decided to go down that route on 27th December. He should be as at home on the gradients of Chepstow as he was on the gradients of Cheltenham, it usually comes up very soft for that race, and his mark of 133 should see him get into the Welsh National on a nice racing weight, just nicely into the 10sts. Interestingly, five of the last 10 winners of the race were rated between 131 and 135. Murphy mentioned the Eider Chase at Newcastle in February as his next potential target. His new mark would probably see him set to carry more weight in that contest than he would have to in the Welsh National but, unusually for a staying handicap chase, the Eider is a race in which high weights tend to do well. Four of the last five winners were rated higher than 130, and all of the last seven winners carried 11st or more.

14th November 2009

© The Irish Field, 21st November 2009