Horses To Follow » Knockara Beau

Knockara Beau

Knockara Beau ran an interesting race to finish fourth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham on Wednesday. Settled just behind the front rank in the early stages by Jan Faltejsek, his jumping wasn’t that fluent on occasion, but he still held a nice position just behind and in the slipstream of leader Citizen Vic at the top of the hill. He jumped the fourth last slowly. It wasn’t really a mistake as such, and actually Long Run made a worse mistake on his immediate outside, but he was slow over it, and he lost momentum, with the result that six horses passed him between the take-off side of that obstacle and the top bend. Suddenly, from holding the box seat on the inside just behind the leader, he was shuffled back to last place at a crucial stage of the race, just as the pace was increasing. He came under pressure on the run down the hill, and he was slightly hampered when Citizen Vic fell (regrettably fatally) in front of him at the second last, but he kept finding for pressure. He was never going to get near the winner Weapon’s Amnesty, but he did stay on admirably up the hill all the way to the line. He was five lengths behind Long Run and three lengths behind Burton Port jumping the last, yet he was beaten just a half a length by both of them in a three-way go for the runner-up spot.

Knockara Beau has been remarkably consistent this season. This was the first time that he has finished out of the first two in seven runs since he beat Killyglen at Carlisle on his seasonal debut on 1st November. A sound jumper in the early part of the season, mistakes seem to have crept into his game since he got beaten by Diamond Harry in a Grade 2 contest at Haydock in January, when he probably would have finished third had Bensalem not departed three out. While he handled this good ground, his overall record suggests that he is at his best on soft ground, possibly because there isn’t such a premium on fast fluent jumping when the ground is on the easy side. He seemed happy bowling along in front in the early part of the season, and a switch back to front-running tactics could pay dividends. He would be interesting if he lined up at Aintree and, looking further ahead, he looks well handicapped on a mark of 145 with next year’s top staying handicap chases in mind. He could be a Hennessy horse.

Small footnote. Knockara Beau’s performance shows the absent Weird Al in a really positive light, given that Ian Williams’s gelding beat George Charlton’s horse on the two occasions that they met. Weird Al should be noted wherever he shows up next. Hopefully he will have recovered from the ailment that ruled him out of the RSA Chase sufficiently to allow him run before the end of the season.

17th March 2010

© The Irish Field, 27th March 2010