Horses To Follow » Green Belt Elite

Green Belt Elite

Green Belt Elite put up a really nice performance to land the two-mile novices’ handicap chase at Wincanton on Thursday. This was only a three-horse race, and his two rivals, Franchoek and Recif De Thaix, have not progressed as it looked like they might have over fences, but the style in which Green Belt Elite did this was impressive.

Sent to the front from flagfall by Sam Thomas, his jumping was straight and accurate throughout. He increased the pace impressively over the cross fence and around the home turn, stretched away from his rivals nicely, and had the race in the bag by the time he jumped the third last before jumping the last two well and easing home.

No better than an average novice hurdler last season, Green Belt Elite is a different proposition over fences. He is a big horse, but he is fast and accurate over his fences, and he has a good attitude for chasing. He has now won three of his four starts over the larger obstacles, all three at the minimum distance, and finished second on his other run, when stepped up to two and a quarter miles at Exeter and appearing to just get out-stayed by the more experienced Pavillon Bleu, who followed up on his next start off an 8lb higher mark. The form of Green Belt Elite’s subsequent run at Wincanton on St Stephen’s Day, when he beat Oiseau De Nuit by a neck, after circumventing the unwanted attentions of a loose horse, as that rival followed up in a hot race at Ffos Las on his subsequent start off a 6lb higher mark. Green Belt Flyer himself was racing off a 1olb higher mark on Thursday, but he made light of that. The handicapper will undoubtedly have another go at thwarting his progress, but he is only six, he has raced just four times over fences, and he continues to progress. He did win over two and a half miles last season over hurdles, but two miles or an extended two miles on soft ground over fences seems to suit him well. He has the Grand Annual and the Jewson Chase as options at the Cheltenham Festival, and he is so progressive that he would be interesting in the former, the shorter race, especially given the good record that novices have in the race (they have won 10 of the last 28 renewals), but you would have to be worried for him in that contest if the ground came up fast. If he runs again on soft ground before Cheltenham, he will be of interest.

4th February 2010

© The Irish Field, 13th February 2010