Horses To Follow » Rivaliste


The five-year-old Rivaliste travelled really well in the two-mile Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday. He jumped well on the heels of the leader (and eventual second) Grand Lahou for much of the journey and looked like he was going to play a big part in the finish coming to the third from home. However, he did not jump that fence as fluently as he had the previous 10 and he seemed to get slightly outpaced after it as Safari Journey took it up and Dave’s Dream came to make his effort on the outside. He stayed on again up the hill to take third, but he was no match for Nicky Henderson’s impressive winner, who had clearly benefited from a wind operation over the summer.

Rivaliste made a winning British debut last November when winning a novices’ handicap chase at Newbury before he was just caught in his bid to follow up at Sandown a week later. On the back of those two promising efforts, and bullish comments from his trainer at pre-Cheltenham evenings all over the country, he was made favourite for the Jewson Chase at the Cheltenham Festival but he was keen enough there and his jumping rather let him down. He settled and jumped much better here and, now that he has shown that he can settle, he may well be better back over two and a half miles. Nicholls said in a stable tour at the start of the season that he loves to bowl along in front. He couldn’t quite get to the front here with the presence of Grand Lahou, and he may well do even better if he is able to really dominate from the front and put his rivals to the sword with his accurate jumping. The handicapper has left him on his mark of 137, which is lenient, and he remains a potentially well-handicapped horse.

12th November 2010