Horses To Follow » Mam Ratagan

Mam Ratagan

Mam Ratagan ran a lot better than his finishing position suggests in the two-mile-five-and-a-half-furlong handicap chase at Ascot last Saturday. He and eventual winner The Sawyer between them set a fairly frenetic pace, helped along by a couple of others, including Will Be Done, who wanted to race handily. Mam Ratagan jumped continually left, forsaking ground throughout the contest, yet he was bang there until the home turn, in third place, a little way behind The Sawyer, before fading and finishing fifth, almost 30 lengths behind the winner.

This was a hot race. The Sawyer has won again since, at Cheltenham on Saturday off a 4lb higher mark, and second and third Miss Mitch and Kilcrea Castle set a fair standard, and Mam Ratagan was in contention until the home turn despite being up with what was probable too fast a pace and jumping to his left. As well as that, this was the Mtoto gelding’s first try at a distance this far. All of his best form is over two miles, and he is quite a free-going type, so it was unlikely that the step up in trip was going to suit. He is nine years old, but he is really lightly-raced for his age, this was just his seventh run over fences. It is a little worrying that he has not won over fences yet – indeed, he hasn’t won in 11 tries under all codes since he won a bumper at Warwick on his racecourse debut in January 2006 – and he has finished second four times, beaten no more than two and a half lengths on any of those four occasions, but he is not ungenuine, he battled all the way to the line when jut going down to Consigliere in a two-mile handicap chase at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting on his previous run, the pair of them pulling clear of some useful rivals. It was surprising that the handicapper dropped him 1lb for his latest run at Ascot, as the performance was at least up to his handicap mark, probably beyond it, and he can improve again when he drops back a little in trip, when he encounters better ground again and when he goes back on a left-handed track. He should be well able to win off his current mark of 125, and he would be interesting if dropped back into novice grade. He should be under-rated now. A two-mile or extended two-mile novices’ handicap chase on goodish ground on a left-handed track with no other obvious front-runner in the race would be his optimum.

23rd January 2010