Horses To Follow » Doctor Pat

Doctor Pat

It would have been a grave injustice had Doctor Pat not won the two-and-a-half-mile novices’ chase at Sandown on Friday. A big strapping chasing type, trained by Francois Doumen and wearing the second colours of JP McManus, with AP McCoy wearing the white cap on Award Winner, he was settled out the back of the field by Noel Fehily in the early stages behind a decent pace set by Latanier, but his jumping was so good that it carted him up just behind the front rank after they had jumped the first three in the back straight. Fehily took a tug at that stage, taking his horse back in behind, with the result that at the end of the back straight he was probably further behind the leaders than ideal. The rider didn’t appear to be that perturbed, he seemed more intent on keeping his horse in a rhythm from that point than getting out after the leaders, with the result that he was at least six lengths behind Ruby Walsh and Rivaliste jumping the Pond Fence, the third last. It can be might difficult to make ground over the last two fences at Sandown when the leaders aren’t stopping, and Doctor Pat’s chance looked a forlorn one when they straightened up for the second last. Fehily took him to the outside and asked him to pick up, which he duly did. He flew the second last and the last and, although Rivaliste wasn’t stopping on the far side, Doctor Pat just got up to nut him on the line under not much more than a hands and heels ride from Fehily, just two backhanders inside the final 50 yards his only recourse to the stick.

This was a big performance from the winner. Runner-up Rivaliste is a highly-regarded, progressive young French import from the Paul Nicholls yard who looked to have a serious engine when he won at Newbury on the Friday of Hennessy weekend on his seasonal debut, his debut for Nicholls, and the front pair pulled well clear of Latanier, who had sluiced in on his previous start at Ludlow. Doctor Pat travelled really well throughout, and it is probable that he was more superior to his rivals than the minimum winning margin suggests. A son of Definite Article out of Bilbao, whom Doumen also trained to finish third in the Champion Hurdle, we last saw him in these parts at Ascot last February, when he shaped with a deal of promise in finishing third behind the useful pair Wendel and Chariot Charger. That was just his second ever run. He has run four times at Auteuil in the interim, his last run before Friday being in a listed two-and-a-half-mile chase. The rating of 111 that he was given for his British debut was obviously lenient on this evidence. He is certain to be rewarded with a fair hike now by the handicapper, but he is only five, he has just run three times over fences, including once when he fell at the second, and he jumps so well that he should be able to progress significantly from this. He could be a Jewson Chase horse, or he could be even better than that.

4th December 2009