Horses To Follow » Notre Pere

Notre Pere

Notre Pere was mentioned here recently for his promising seasonal debut at Thurles, when second to Glencove Marina over an inadequate trip, and there was enough about his performance in the Becher Chase at Aintree on Sunday to suggest that he could still be a real Grand National contender now. Jim Dreaper’s horse took to the big fences really well, he just stepped over them as you hoped that a horse of his size and scope would, but he had no luck in running. He was the meat in the sandwich when he was badly hampered at the fourth, the second-last on the first circuit, and he just got shuffled back a bit as a result. Andrew Lynch just had to niggle him along a bit to keep him going when they set out on their second circuit. He was still travelling okay and he jumped well up the side of the track, but he just got in too tight at Becher’s, made a mistake, and then, just to compound matters, was all but brought to a standstill when hampered by a faller in front of him. It resulted in him being too far back to land a blow, he must have been 25 lengths adrift of the leaders over the Melling Road and it never looked like he was going to get into it from there. He kept on for fifth, under only slight pressure, and he was beaten a long way in the end, but he proved he could jump the fences well, which was probably the point of the exercise.

The handicapper has actually dropped Notre Pere another 2lb for this effort, which means he is now rated 149, 3lb lower than the mark off which he won the Welsh National two seasons ago, which was actually his previous run in a handicap chase. As mentioned before, he didn’t have the best of times last season, but his seasonal debut when second to Glencove Marina was really promising, as was this run. He was probably unlucky not to at least be placed or have finished much closer than he did.

Even if Denman doesn’t run in the National, a mark of 149 should see him get into the race on a viable weight (he would have carried 11st 1lb off that mark last April), and he looks a big player for the race, even at this early stage. He probably does need soft ground to be at his best, he has won on decent ground and the extreme distance may commute his need for soft ground somewhat.

21st November 2010