Horses To Follow » Calgary Bay

Calgary Bay

Everything finally fell into place for Calgary Bay in the three-mile handicap chase at Doncaster on Saturday, and he duly performed, putting in an impressive performance to win as easily as he liked. All the planets had lined up for him: good ground, left handed track, three miles, a rating of 142 and, crucially, Graham Lee. He hunted around out the back on the rail for a circuit, moved out going down the back straight final time, made his progress easily, swung wide into the straight, continued to progress on the near side, took it up over the second last and came away to win readily.

This was the first time that Henrietta Knight’s gelding has realised even a semblance of the potential that he showed in his early days jumping fences last season, notably when he won the Dipper Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. In his defence, it was really the first time that he has had everything in his favour. It may be that he needs everything to be right in order for him to perform. He was a bit keen for Paul Moloney in the early stages on his seasonal debut over two and a half miles at Newbury on Hennessy weekend, and he folded tamely, but he apparently pulled muscles in his back that day. He had schooled well in the interim, and his trainer was hopeful last Saturday.

There is every chance that he can go on from this now. The handicapper raised him 11lb to a mark of 153, but that still may underestimate his ability. He is six and he should be progressing now as a staying chaser. His trainer is talking about taking in some more three-mile handicaps – the Skybet Chase at Doncaster, back over this course and distance, at the end of January would be a logical target – but he should be worth his place in conditions chases now. I wouldn’t mind seeing him take his chance in the Aon Chase at Newbury in February and, after that, you never know (he has won twice at Cheltenham) he might earn his place in the Gold Cup line up.

12th December 2009