Horses To Follow » Big Fella Thanks

Big Fella Thanks

Big Fella Thanks was the horse to take out of the good three-mile graduation chase run at Carlisle on Monday for me. The strapping son of Primitive Rising travelled really well for Graham Lee last of the five runners, jumped really well, and looked by far the most likely winner when he moved up on the near side to take it up at the second last. At least three lengths clear jumping the last, he just got tired on the run-in, and probably idled a little as well, as lack of a recent run probably told, allowing Hey Big Spender to get back up and beat him by a length.

This was still a most encouraging run from Big Fella Thanks, having his first run for Ferdy Murphy. A good staying handicap chaser for Paul Nicholls for the last two seasons, he did remarkably well to finish sixth in the Grand National as a seven-year-old novice in 2009, and he ran another cracker to finish fourth in the race last April when sent off the 10/1 joint favourite. He travelled as well as any of his rivals to the home turn in the National before his stamina ebbed over the last two fences and he actually faded quite badly on the run-in to finish almost 30 lengths behind the winner. This type of distance probably suits him better than that four-and-a-half-mile marathon, and this was an ideal first run of the season, first for his new trainer. Ferdy Murphy’s horses usually come on for a run, and you have to think that this will have put Big Fella Thanks spot on for the Hennessy, his logical early-season target. He is well suited to a galloping track like Newbury, he won a good two-and-a-half-mile chase at the track last March, and he didn’t run at all badly on his only other visit to the Berkshire track when he finished second to Carruthers on his first run in nine months last December. He continues to progress as his jumping continues to improve, and he is still just eight, despite the fact that it seems like he has been around for ages. A handicap rating of 151 probably under-estimates his ability, and it would see him just 5lb out of the handicap if Denman runs and Kauto Star does not. He has reportedly come out of the Carlisle race in great shape, he should come on for it, and he has to be on your Hennessy shortlist.

8th November 2010

© The Irish Field, 13th November 2010