Horses To Follow » Gentle Ranger

*Gentle Ranger

Gentle Ranger put up a fine staying performance when he led all the way to land a three-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Cheltenham on Friday. He came under pressure at the top of the hill but kept on finding, he kept on pulling out a bit more over the final two fences to defy Minella Four Star, who looked to be travelling a lot better than him down the hill. This wasn’t a great handicap, but the marathon trip suited Gentle Ranger, and he can do even better on soft ground.

It was soft when he ran a cracker to be second to Knighton Combe at Newbury in December, although he was running a big race when he fell when in front in the four-mile National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and, as a son of Presenting, it isn’t a surprise that he handles this good ground. He just gallops and stays, he jumped well here, and he needs an extreme test of stamina to be seen to maximum effect. He handles soft ground, so he will probably be at his best when there is a cut in the ground, as testing conditions obviously place a premium on stamina.

The handicapper raised him just 4lb for this performance, which leaves him on a mark of 134, which is more than fair. He is only eight, he has run just 12 times on the racecourse, and he could have a big staying handicap in him next season, possibly the Welsh National, a race that always places a strong emphasis on stamina. A rating of 134 should see him get into the Welsh National in the low 10sts, and that would be ideal. If he is trained for that race, and if his handicap mark is protected in the meantime, he would be very interesting if he lined up at Chepstow on 27th December.

16th April 2010