Horses To Follow » King’s Forest

King’s Forest

The Emma Lavelle-trained King’s Forest put up a nice performance to win a good two-mile-three-furlong beginners’ chase at Taunton on Tuesday. Settled in last of the six runners in the early stages, his jumping was good and carried him into third place behind Son Of Flicka and the favourite Quartz De Thaix on leaving the back straight. The three of them picked up nicely and jumped the second last in a line, but Son Of Flicka made a bad mistake, and Quartz De Thaix was a little awkward, as he was throughout actually, with the result that King’s Forest came away from the fence in front and quickened impressively down to the last, which he jumped well before careering away up the run in to win well.

This was a decent race for the class. Runner-up Quartz De Thaix was a decent hurdler, he started favourite for the big EBF novices’ handicap hurdle final at Sandown on Imperial Cup day last season, and he had already run three times over fences, placing all three times in good beginners’ chases, while Vodka Brook, who would have been third had he not unshipped his rider at the last, was another decent young hurdler – he won a handicap at Wincanton last season off a mark of 111, who had also had plenty of experience over fences. The time of the race was six seconds slower than the time that Montgermont clocked in winning the handicap over the same course and distance later in the day, but they went a good gallop in that race, whereas they went steady early on in the beginners’ chase.

King’s Forest won two of his five hurdle races last season. He was most impressive in winning at Kempton on St Patrick’s Day, when he was stepped up to two and a half miles for the first time, but it was always as a chaser that he was going to make his mark. He has taken two runs to get his eye in, he was keen in front and he didn’t jump that well when beaten on his debut at Bangor in September, and it was a similar scenario when he returned to the track the following month, when he was sent off as favourite to beat Seven Is My Number and Khachaturian. That is a measure of the regard in which he is held. He was much happier held up in behind on Tuesday, he jumped really well in the main, he made ground at his fences, and he ran out a ready winner. He is still just six, this was just his third chase, and there is no telling how good he could be. It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does with him now, because if he is not too harsh – and he really shouldn’t be based on his performances over fences – he could be one for the Jewson Chase at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Quite remarkably, the last four Jewson Chase winners were rated between 133 and 135. King’s Forest is rated 135 over hurdles, and it is probable that he will be awarded a similar mark over fences. As long as he is not awarded too much more than that, he has to be on your shortlist for the Jewson at this stage.

2nd February 2010

© The Irish Field, 6th February 2010