Horses To Follow » Hell’s Bay

Hell’s Bay

Hell’s Bay really lived up to the potential he showed in threatening to make a serious race of it for a while with Time For Rupert in a novice chase at Cheltenham earlier in the season when winning the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase back at Prestbury Park on New Year’s Day. Travelling with his customary ease, Joe Tizzard gave the inside away to no one all the way round, and came there at the top of the hill to join the leading bunch, taking the eye such was the way he was still travelling. A couple of good jumps took him right onto the leader’s heels but Tizzard was anxious not to deliver him too soon and so kept him in behind rivals after the third last. When let loose approaching the second last, Hell’s Bay quickened impressively past the long time leader Have You Seen Me and even had the pacier Medermit in trouble as he appeared to show more acceleration than that former Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up. A couple of lengths up on the approach to the last, he got in far too close to the fence as Tizzard asked for a big leap, a mistake that would have ended the chance of a lesser rival. Even having stood up at the last, he had every excuse to give up when Medermit challenged him, but he showed real guts to battle on up the hill and fend him off pretty cosily in the end.

Medermit is a 158-rated hurdler (having been as high as 164) and the front pair pulled a long way clear of some very decent rivals in a time that was some seven seconds quicker than the time that Tartak clocked in winning the handicap chase over the same distance half an hour later.

This was a very smart performance. Hell’s Bay has now finished second to the RSA Chase favourite Time For Rupert over two and a half miles and a horse disputing favouritism for the Arkle in Finian’s Rainbow over two miles at Newbury, so this victory was deserved and, despite his starting price, was achieved very much on merit.

Hell’s Bay has shown none of the wayward tendencies that led to Robert Thorntons’s bad knee injury when he ran out at Newton Abbot back in the summer since joining Colin Tizzard, and he is now fulfilling the promise of his authoritative win in the Persian War a couple of years ago. He deserves his place to the fore of the market for the new Jewson Novices’ Chase, which looks like the right Cheltenham Festival target.

1st January 2011