Horses To Follow » Salut Flo

Salut Flo

French import Salut Flo turned what looked like a really competitive two-mile-three-furlong handicap chase into something of a rout at Doncaster on Friday. Sent to the front from flagfall by Hadden Frost, on the outside of Soulard, he travelled easily throughout and jumped well as he set a strong enough pace. Still on the bridle at the top of the home straight, the response when his rider asked him to lengthen was impressive. He quickly extended his lead over the third last, and it was immediately apparent that he was going to take a lot of catching. He jumped that last two fences well and stayed on nicely up the run-in and all the way to the line to post an impressive win.

While this was a competitive handicap, it wasn’t the highest quality handicap chase ever run at Doncaster, but Salut Flo came right away from Soulard and the well backed Alan King horse Sagalyrique without being asked for maximum effort, and the time was good, the fastest comparative chase of the day and four seconds faster than the novice chase run over the same course and distance earlier on. There is a lot to like about Salut Flo now. This was his first run for David Pipe, his first run in the UK, which made it difficult for the handicapper, but a mark of 118 was obviously some way short of his true mark. He ran in nine hurdle races in France and three chases – he won a chase on his last start in France, at Cagnes-Sur-Mer, making all – but he is still only five, and there is no telling by how much he can improve now. He is in the Grand Annual and the Jewson, and he would be of particular interest if he managed to get into either, particularly the Jewson Chase run over two miles and five furlongs against fellow novices. The Grand Annual, stepping back to two miles against experienced rivals, may be a little more arduous. It may all be irrelevant anyway, even a 7lb penalty brings him up to a mark of just 125, which means that there is a great chance he won’t get into the race. If he does, and if David Pipe decides to run him in it, he would have a massive chance. The handicapper is certain to raise him by a lot more than 7lb when he gets the chance to re-assess him. Even so, with a lot of bookmakers going non-runner-no-bet for Cheltenham, you could do a lot worse than have a few quid each-way on him now at 20/1, safe in the knowledge that you get your money back if he doesn’t get into the race or if the trainer doesn’t declare him.

5th March 2010