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Officier De Reserve

Officier De Reserve stayed on very takingly to finish third in the Class 2 0-145 three-mile-two-and-a-half furlong Raceodds Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day won by the back-to-form Blazing Bailey. Settled on the outside of midfield, his jumping was not particularly fluent early on, and he received reminders early on the last circuit. They went quite hard in front through this race though and that really brought Officier De Reserve’s stamina into play. He was only ninth turning in, sixth jumping the last, and fifth passing what would have been the last before staying on really strongly to finish third.

This was his second eye-catching run in succession, having stayed on nicely on his previous run at Newbury, again over an extended three-and-a-quarter miles. He looks the type for a big staying handicap at some stage, and could be in line for one of the Nationals this season. This was his best recorded RPR since finishing an excellent fourth in the Welsh National two seasons ago when only six, where he looked the likely winner a few fences from home and would have finished a gallant second but for a mistake at the last and being caught close home. He is much stronger now and seems to be crying out for marathon distances again (his run in the Irish National last season can be largely ignored as he had been off for a year before returning in March of last year). After a pipe-opener at Carlisle (a very tough place to go first time out, especially in testing ground) he seems much better this season and will be of interest in staying handicaps for the rest of the season, particularly now that his trainer Venetia Williams could be hitting some form after a bleak December. Left on his mark of 126, he will be of interest if he takes up his engagement in the Classic Chase at Warwick next Saturday, especially if the ground is soft. Interestingly, he won a novices’ hurdle on his only visit to the track.

1st January 2011