Horses To Follow » Carlitos


The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Carlitos put up a nice performance to win the two-and-three-quarter-mile handicap chase at Newbury on Friday. A little keen just behind the leaders in the very early stages of the race – hence the cross noseband – his jumping was sound and he moved into second place behind Soleil Fix as they started down the back straight. Left in front when that horse departed at the second last in the back straight, he and Wee Robbie moved away from their field from the fourth last, where Carlitos actually made a mistake. Wee Robbie took a slender lead away from that obstacle, but Paddy Brennan quickly had Carlitos back level and apparently travelling just slightly better. He jumped each of the last three fences really well, and came away on the run-in. He didn’t put a distance of ground between himself and his only real pursuer, but he was pricking his ears and probably idling, and he almost certainly had a fair bit more in hand than the bare winning margin.

Wee Robbie is a decent stick, a good novice chaser in his time, who had run the useful Soixante to a neck in a two-and-a-half-mile chase at Kempton on Racing Post Chase day on his last start. Carlitos beat him with plenty to spare, and the pair of them had it between them from early in the home straight, coming 12 lengths clear of their rivals. Winner of his only bumper, the son of Hernando was a useful novice hurdler, beating Gauvain and Hills Of Aran in his maiden in 2007, and considered good enough to contest Tidal Bay’s Mersey Hurdle at the 2008 Aintree Grand National meeting.

Off the track for more than two and a half years after that, he returned in Wogan’s novices’ handicap chase at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day, running well and jumping well until he tired, and he shaped even better on his next start at Ludlow three weeks ago, finishing four lengths behind Pickamus, just holding on for second place from subsequent impressive winner Song Sung Blue.

He was racing in just his third ever chase on Friday, he is eight but he has raced just eight times under all codes in his life, and he is more progressive. He is certain to come in for a hike now from the handicapper, but the rating of 122 off which he raced on Friday is 8lb lower than his hurdles rating. There is much more in him, he is unexposed over fences and over this longer trip, and he will be of big interest wherever he shows up next.

26th March 2010

© The Irish Field, 3rd April 2010