Horses To Follow » Atouchbetweenacara


It is perhaps unusual to put up a horse who was pulled up as one to follow next time, but Atouchbetweenacara ran an interesting race in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on Saturday. High up in the initial ante post lists for the race, he was very weak in the market on the day, and he raced freely through the early stages, which was understandable on his first run for 77 days, his first since he re-joined Venetia Williams from Tim Vaughan. Aidan Coleman tried to restrain him just behind the front rank in the early stages, but his jumping was so good and he was so free that he ambled his way to the front. He had to have been going plenty fast enough if he was going faster than Madison Du Berlais and Nacarat, who were both anxious to lead, but he seemed to be doing it easily enough, and Coleman seemed to be happy to allow him stride on rather than try to restrain him. He took it up at the fifth fence, and travelled and jumped really well, if a little to his left, from there to open up a four-length gap on Madison Du Berlais and Nacarat, who were in turn six lengths clear of the chasing field. Eight lengths clear going past the winning post on the first circuit, Coleman took him back a little in order, and he made a mistake at the first on the second circuit and another at the second, the ditch, and he was quickly swallowed up by the chasing pack before being pulled up at the end of the back straight.

Paul Beck’s horse put in a huge run at the end of last season at Cheltenham’s April meeting to beat Private Be by 20 lengths, for which he was rewarded with a 19lb hike in the ratings. That run may have flattered him somewhat – it is always a possibility with an end-of-season contest – and he has been busy coming down from his lofty rating of 148 since. He has had a bit of a stop-start time of it anyway. Moved from Venetia Williams’s yard at the start of the season to be trained by Tim Vaughan, he was installed as ante post favourite for the Paddy Power Gold Cup in November when betting opened on the race, but he didn’t get there, and he was disappointing when he did get to make his seasonal debut in the Boylesports. Moved back to Venetia Williams after that, this was his first run since.

The handicapper has dropped him 6lb for this, which is handy, because there is also a chance that his run last April does not flatter him. Private Be is a pretty consistent performer, the pair of them were clear of the rest of the field. Also, Atouchbetweenacara is a horse of some talent, as he proved when he got to within a length of Master Medic at Huntingdon in November last season, and he was hugely progressive before his Cheltenham run in April, having run just five times over fences before that. There is a chance that his new mark of 141 under-estimates his ability. He appears to be at his best in the spring, he goes well on good ground, and there is a good chance that he will be disregarded by many whenever he runs next, with a P next to his name. He is entered in the William Hill and the Festival Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, and he would be of some interest if he took his chance in the latter in particular, over the same course and distance as his April win. He may still be more effective over two and a half miles than over three. A mark of 141 is just about low enough for that race statistically, if top weight Our Vic stayed in the race, he would be set to carry 10st 10lb, which would be perfect, and he could go well in it at a massive price. (You can bet him at 33/1 now.) Interestingly, Venetia Williams has a quite incredible record in the race: she has won two of the last three renewals, she saddled the first two home last year, and she has had two winners and five placed horses from just 10 runners in the race. If she does allow Atouchbetweenacara take his chance (she has seven entries at this stage), the hint should be taken.

27th February 2010