Horses To Follow » Somersby


Given the circumstances Somersby ran a cracking race to finish third to a Master Minded back to somewhere near his best in the relocated Tingle Creek at Cheltenham last Saturday. He reared up and turned over as they left the paddock, crashing into some plastic railing in the process, hardly the ideal preparation for a two-mile Grade 1 chase. Yet it didn’t seem to affect him in the early part of the race as he jumped like a stag over the first few fences. Indeed his fluent jumping was a feature of his performance all the way round here, save for one bad mistake at the ditch at the top of the hill, which shuffled him back at a crucial time. He had to be switched back around runners to get past them again and ran on into third soon after the last before making up a tremendous amount of ground on the runner-up, Petit Robin, just failing to catch that one, but still eight lengths behind the two-time Champion Chaser.

Many will now argue that Somersby should be kept at two miles given that his two best RPRs have now come over the minimum distance at Cheltenham, this one narrowly better than the one he recorded for his fast-finishing Arkle second in March, and that he may well have finished a fair bit closer to Master Minded, one of the greatest two-mile chasers of all time, had he not made that bad blunder at the open ditch. However the fact remains that he is open to much more improvement over further, and while Master Minded appears back to somewhere near his unbeatable best, and Big Zeb is looking as good as ever, the top staying division is approaching a transition stage as Kauto Star and Denman are rising 11 and Imperial Commander is soon to reach veteran age himself. Henrietta Knight plumped to run Somersby here, to test him in an all-age Grade 1 contest over two miles, rather than in the King George, a race in which she likes to have runners, to test his stamina for three. The Ryanair Chase is the obvious race for him now, but it would be interesting if this run has persuaded his trainer to allow Somersby take his chance in the Gold Cup (even though all her talk is of the Ryanair) now that he has proved once again that two miles is inadequate for him.

11th December 2010