Horses To Follow » Safari Journey

Safari Journey

Safari Journey turned the competitive looking Listed Byrne Group Handicap Chase into a rout at Ascot on Saturday. The Phillip Hobbs-trained gelding travelled strongly in first-time blinkers and jumped supremely well, almost too well at times as he rather jumped into the back of the horses in front of him at a couple of his fences early on. Taken to the outside down the back straight, he continued to travel well and took it up going over the fourth last before simply powering clear around the home turn and up the straight. They were no mugs in behind either.

Safari Journey has always looked like a potentially capable performer, but the first-time blinkers seem to have unleashed his talent. This performance was very good indeed. The handicapper has raised him 14lb to a mark of 144, but he is still only six and there is more scope for progression in him. His form over the last two years since he came over from France has been fairly consistent, albeit a tad frustrating at times. It would appear that he is slightly better when fresh – he has won first time out before and this was his first jumps start of the season, having had a blow in a 12-furlong apprentices’ handicap on the flat here the previous weekend. He does probably want at least goodish ground too to be seen at his best, so he is not one for deep winter ground, and there is a concern that the blinkers may not have the same effect at the second time of asking. That said, he has always obviously had talent, he will be difficult to beat in handicaps in this sort of form, and it may be that he will be under-rated next time because of the blinkers factor. He could run in the two-mile handicap chase on the Friday of Cheltenham’s November meeting, the race in which he finished fourth behind French Opera last season. Proven at Cheltenham, he would have a big chance if he lined up in that, even off a big weight, as long as the ground didn’t become too testing.

30th October 2010