Horses To Follow » The Package

The Package

The Package just failed to get up to beat Chief Dan George in the William Hill Trophy at Cheltenham on Tuesday, but it was still a cracking run from the well-supported David Pipe runner. Held up in the early stages of the race, The Package jumped well with plenty of racing room towards the outside of the field, and moved closer as they set out on the final circuit. After they jumped the water jump, Timmy Murphy began to niggle along when most of the field were still travelling on the bridle. They bypassed the third last and coming down the hill there where a host of horses travelling very well. Murphy began to work The Package into the race from here and got into contention before the second last. He jumped that fence slowly, however, and may have lost a length or so but was still continued to gain on the leaders. David Johnson’s gelding began to pick up when he met the rising ground early in the home straight, he jumped the last fence well and it looked for a few strides as if he was going to catch the leader Chief Dan George. He pushed the James Moffatt runner all the way, but the line just came too soon, and he was denied by a head, with the well handicapped Ogee back in third. Another three strides and The Package would have got up.

This was just the Kayf Tara gelding’s second run in three months. After winning the good three-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham’s December meeting, and receiving a 9lb hike as a result, connections presumably put him away so that his handicap rating would not increase any more with a view to targeting this race. That may have told as he needed to be pushed along at an early stage, Murphy was just asking him to go forward a little as early as a full circuit out, but it was thoroughly impressive how he still managed to motor up the hill. The Package was rated 141 for this race, he will undoubtedly come in for a significant hike, but he remains highly progressive. He has improved significantly since he began to tackle distances of three miles or more, which is hardly surprising for a son of Kayf Tara out of an Ardross mare. His form over three miles or further over hurdles or fences reads 3312, all four races highly competitive handicaps, three of them at Cheltenham, in which he has recorded the four highest Racing Post Ratings of his career.

He is still only a seven and is almost certainly still improving as a staying chaser. He stays well, he may even want further than three miles, and he can go well after a recent run. He has been mentioned as a possible Grand National horse, but seven-year-olds have a terrible record in the Grand National, so he may have to wait at least a year for the Aintree showpiece. In the meantime, the Bet365 Gold Cup, a race that has been won three times by seven-year-olds and three times by eight-year-olds in the last 10 years, could be his ideal end-of-season target.

16th March 2010