Horses To Follow » Weapon’s Amnesty

Weapon’s Amnesty

It was mildly surprising that some bookmakers extended Weapon’s Amnesty’s odds for the RSA Chase on the back of the performance that he put up in finishing second to Citizen Vic in the Dr PJ Moriarty Chase at Leopardstown on Sunday. A thorough stayer, the drop down from three miles to two miles and five furlongs was never going to be in the Charles Byrnes-trained gelding’s favour, and so it proved. His jumping wasn’t as fluent as it was when he got beaten by a short head by Pandorama in the Knight Frank Chase at the track over Christmas, possibly because of the slightly faster pace that they go over the shorter distance, and that is a bit of a worry in the context of the RSA Chase. However, there was plenty of encouragement to be gleaned from this performance, there were many more positives than that single negative. He was under pressure and no better than fourth over the second last, yet he stayed on from there all the way to the line, taking second spot on the run-in and closing on the winner all the way to the line.

There was a feeling that the forecast soft ground would place a premium on stamina and help the Gigginstown House horse over the shorter distance. The problem with that pre-race theory, however, was that he appears to be a better horse on better ground, all of his best performances have been on ground no softer than good to soft, which is hardly surprising for a son of Presenting. To confound matters a little further, although the official ground description on Sunday was soft, the times on the day suggest that it was just on the soft side of good which, in one sense, makes Weapon’s Amnesty’s performance all the more meritorious. Two miles and five furlongs on ground just on the soft side of good is well short of the stamina test that he requires.

Significantly, the best performance of Weapon’s Amnesty’s life was when he won the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. Generally, course form at Cheltenham is crucial, and specifically, Festival form is crucial at the Cheltenham Festival. On top of that, Weapon’s Amnesty showed admirable courage to battle on up the hill to get the better of the high class Pride Of Dulcote in a driving finish. It has taken him a little while to get going this season over fences, but he got off the mark when stepped up to three miles for the first time over fences at Newcastle in November. He did get beaten by Pandorama at Leopardstown on his next start, but he was only just beaten, and the probability of faster ground combined with the fact that he is proven at the track and under the unique conditions that the Cheltenham Festival generates gives him a huge chance of reversing placings with Pandorama on 17th March. Also, he jumps fences to his left, so he will be well suited by the left-handed track. Punchestowns deserves to be favourite for the race, he was the classiest of the main contenders over hurdles, and he did impress with the manner in which he was able to pick up and beat Tchico Polos at Sandown last weekend after making a really bad mistake at the fence past the stands. However, Weapon’s Amnesty has a lot in his favour as an RSA Chase contender, and he is over-priced for the race at this stage at 12/1.

7th February 2010

© The Irish Field, 13th February 2010