Horses To Follow » Robinson Collonges

Robinson Collonges

The fact that he was right to the fore of the market for the Vote A.P. Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday yet ended up getting beaten by over 40 lengths will lead many to question whether Robinson Collonges had been over-rated by the handicapper and bookmakers. However, his performance was actually highly encouraging as he shaped with real promise during the race. He went around the outside the whole way, which was a good plan given how inexperienced he was coming into this, but meant he forsook a lot of ground. A nod on landing at the fifth, the second fence up the straight first time round, did not help his position and he found himself right out the rear after that. He made good progress down the back to get right onto the heels of the leaders and looked a real threat at the top of the hill. A couple of errors at a crucial stage, most notably the fourth last and third last, eventually ended his chance, and Noel Fehily was easy on him after he pecked badly at the third last.

This was a big run from a novice in what is always a competitive big-field handicap. Robinson Collonges has been impressive in his three novice chases thus far, albeit slightly hard to accurately evaluate. He sauntered home on his first and third runs, and sandwiched in between them was the Grade 2 Rising Stars at Wincanton where he came to win his race and had just taken it up from the very useful Wishfull Thinking (unlucky not to beat Reve De Sivola and Rebel Du Maquis in a good novices’ chase the previous day) travelling much better than that one when he came down at the third last.

Paul Nicholls’s import had won his first three races in the French Provinces before finishing a creditable second at Auteuil. Three of those performances came on officially very soft ground, but he doesn’t show a great deal of knee action and judged on the way he glided over the good ground at Bangor and Wincanton he might prefer a sound surface. It may well be that the ground was too dead for him here. He deserves another chance, it may well be that he will be better for now in small fields (he has never won a race when he faced more than six rivals), but he remains a most exciting novice chaser for the rest of the season.

11th December 2010