Past Winners » Qaspal


There are a couple of imponderables here, we are not certain what is going to run, but it is worthwhile taking the 6/1 about Qaspal that is available this morning and hoping that the race pans out as it looks like it might.

For starters, Qaspal needs six horses to come out between now and declaration time if he is to get into the race, he is number 30 on the list in a race with a maximum field size of 24, but there is every chance that at least that number will come out and allow him get a run. And even if six don’t come out and he doesn’t get into the race, we will get our money back as long as Philip Hobbs declares him, which is the intention at this stage.

Qaspal is a really likeable sort. Second in a bumper at Gowran Park in October 2008 when he was trained by Mag Mullins, he took a little while to get going since moving to Philip Hobbs’s yard, but he was impressive in winning a conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Kempton in February, and he was even more impressive when winning over two and a half miles at Sandown on his latest start. The handicapper gave him 14lb for his win at Kempton but, because it was a conditional jockeys’ race he didn’t have to carry a penalty at Sandown, so he was entitled to win as easily as he did, being effectively 14lb well-in. The early pace in that race wasn’t strong, and Qaspal pulled quite hard for his head until McCoy allowed him stride on at the top of the home straight. When he did, the response was impressive, and Qaspal came clear to win impressively, beating two useful types in Rebeccas Choice and Regal Approach into second and third places.

The handicapper didn’t touch him again after that, just left him on his 14lb higher mark of 124, but he is most progressive now and he should be able to far out-perform that mark. He has raced just six times now in his life, just five times over hurdles, and he has only really begun to get his eye in now in his last two runs. The fact that he has won at the track is a positive, albeit on softer ground over a longer distance. The drop back to two miles and the move to better ground is a little bit of a worry, but it looked the last day at Sandown as if he would be well suited by the faster pace that better ground and/or a drop in distance would provide, they just weren’t going fast enough for him. He showed plenty of pace on his racecourse debut over two miles on good ground at Gowran, and he should be able to travel easily off a fast pace on Saturday.

As things stand, Qaspal is set to carry 10st 3lb, which is perfect – three of the last five winners carried 10st 5lb or less – but even if some of the top ones come out and the weights go up, he shouldn’t have too big a weight to carry relative to his opponents, given that there are only 10 horses beneath him in the long handicap and most of them will probably struggle to get into the race. He looks set to run a big race.

Hunterview has been all the rage since betting opened, and you can see where his supporters are coming from, a progressive four-year-old from the David Pipe yard, like Gaspara and Ashkazar, two of the last three winners of this race, a yard that loves to win this race, as David’s father Martin did before him, and plot one up for the bonus that goes with winning this race and then winning a race at the Cheltenham Festival. However, a 93-rated horse on the flat, Hunterview just hasn’t hit the heights yet over hurdles, and you feel that it is the Pipe factor as much as anything else that is influencing the market. Also, he needs 13 horses above him to come out in order for him to get into the race, and that is a big ask. Even if they do, there is a chance that he will have to race from out of the handicap. I am much happier backing Qaspal at a bigger price.

QASPAL WON (ADV 6/1, SP 11/4)