Horses To Follow » Lease Lend

Lease Lend

Lease Lend is worth another chance after he finished sixth behind Prince De Beauchene and Salut Flo in the new Daffodil Chase at Haydock on Saturday. Held up out the back, he didn’t jump as well out of this really heavy ground as he had on his previous three runs, and he could never really get close enough to strike a blow. The first two are really exciting horses, they pulled clear of the field, and Lease Lend seemed to be always floundering on the ground. It wasn’t a day for hold-up horses, it wasn’t a day for horses that couldn’t handle the extreme conditions, and Lease Lend is better than this.

On his previous run, he put up a really useful performance to win a decent Class 3 two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase also at Haydock. Settled nicely out the back by Richie McGrath in the early stages, he jumped well and travelled easily throughout, moved up towards the leaders as Leamington Lad took it up towards the end of the back straight, and travelled nicely into the race from the top of the home straight. A slight mistake at the fourth last wasn’t ideal, but it didn’t halt his momentum, he jumped the third last better, moved into second place in front of Camden George and behind Leamington Lad on the run to the second last, got to within a half a length of the leader at the last and stayed on really well to take it up half way up the run-in before appearing to idle and just getting home by a half a length from the rallying runner-up.

Lease Lend has now run 14 times over fences, but he seems to have improved significantly for being held up. A quadruple winner over hurdles, he has only twice been out of the first four in those 14 runs over fences, but his last three before last Saturday, since his mid-season break from November to February this season, have seen him reach new heights. Always prominent in his races previously, there was a clutch of front-runners in the handicap chase at Catterick that he contested in early February with the result that Richie McGrath – who was taking over in the saddle on him for the first time in over two years – held him up, and the change of tactics worked well as he quickened up nicely on the run-in to beat I’m Your Man by a length and a half. Similar tactics had a similar effect back over the same course and distance 10 days later off a 6lb higher mark, and they worked again at Haydock off a 7lb higher mark again. He only got home by a half a length, but he almost certainly had a fair bit more in hand than that, he came through to win his race nicely before he appeared to idle. He probably had a fair bit more to give if more had been required. Furthermore, the runner-up is a nice progressive individual, and the front pair pulled well clear of the third horse Camden George, who was well fancied and well backed, and he in turn was clear of the remainder.

Lease Lend is not especially lightly-raced, but he is still a young horse as staying chasers go, he is only seven, and the implementation of hold-up tactics, together with the addition of Riche McGrath, seem to have brought about significant improvement. He proved at Haydock that he is not just a specialist at Catterick, the track at which his improved form has come this year, and he is at his best on ground that is just on the easy side. The handicapper put him up 6lb for his Haydock win, which wasn’t harsh, and he may be under-rated now on the back of his latest run. He is flat-bred, but this two-and-a-half-mile trip appears to be his optimum, and he will be of interest wherever he lines up next. He may not be out of place in one of the decent handicaps at Aintree as long as he has recovered from Saturday’s exertions on time. If he does not make it to Aintree, he could be a horse for Ayr or Perth before the end of the season.

24th March 2010