Horses To Follow » Sound Stage

Sound Stage

Sound Stage ran a nice race to finish second to Afistfullofpebbles in a two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at Ffos Las on Thursday. Settled nicely in behind in the early stages, he jumped well, and made good progress down the back straight to move in behind the leaders going around the home turn, travelling best. He jumped the fourth last and the third last well, and continued to move easily almost upsides Afistfullofpebbles as the pair of them came clear. Ian Popham shook him up a bit between the final two fences, and he looked set for victory when he jumped the last level with Afistfullofpebbles, but he just couldn’t get past the leader and a power-packed AP McCoy on the short run-in, going down by a half a length in the end.

You have to give the winner enormous credit for his victory. JP McManus’s gelding jumped poorly throughout, consistently to his left, making several significant errors including at the second last – he got a smack from McCoy leaving the back straight – but he responded really well for pressure. He is only six, this was just his fifth chase, his yard is not in great form, it has possibly been held up by the freeze more than most, he did well to win this, given that he was up 9lb from his previous run, and he can continue to progress if he can improve on his jumping. However, it was Sound Stage who took the eye with the manner in which he moved and jumped through the race, and you have to think that, if his rider had kicked him on at the third last, he would have gone two or three lengths clear, and he surely would have broken the winner’s spirit, if not the winner’s rider’s. Sound Stage was also up 9lb from his last run, when he won a conditional jockeys’ contest at Chepstow in December. He travelled like the winner from a long way out that day, he travelled best of all down the hill, went clear going to the second last, got in very close to the last and landed a bit flat-footed, with the result that he had to get going again, and he did idle on the run-in, but picked up again when the runner-up Qhilimar came at him, and that horse was a well-backed winner of a good handicap chase at Newbury on Friday. He is only seven and has now raced just four times over fences in his career. He is not lacking pace, but he was raced over extended distances as a novice hurdler, he is a half-brother to a winner over three miles, and he gives the impression that he will get further. He will be interesting wherever he goes next, and it wouldn’t be a negative if he were to be tried over three miles next.

28th January 2010