Horses To Follow » Fistral Beach

Fistral Beach

Fistral Beach put up a nice performance in winning a decent two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at Wincanton on Saturday. Always handy, the Paul Nicholls-trained gelding took it up at the top of the home straight and never looked in danger thereafter, giving the impression that he was winning with a fair bit more in hand than the four-length winning margin. The runner-up, I’m A Legend is a fair yardstick, he is at his best at Wincanton, and the winning time was good, just 0.38secs/furlong slower than standard, the fastest comparative time on the day by some way and over four seconds faster than the time that his stable companion The Minack clocked in winning the novices’ chase over the same course and distance earlier in the day.

This was Fistral Beach’s first run of the season, his first after a breathing operation, and it was just his sixth ever chase. He has always been highly-regarded, but there was a sense that he was falling a little short of expectations (he has been a beaten favourite no fewer than 10 times, and he was very well backed for the Racing Post Chase last February when he fell at the second fence). He is still unexposed, and there is a chance that he will improve significantly for his breeding operation. Certainly, this performance gives the impression that there is plenty more to come, and there could be a decent handicap in him now. The handicapper has raised him 9lb for this, but even his new mark of 140 could be lenient if he can go on now and fulfil his potential. This is his trip, and he goes on good ground as well as soft, but probably doesn’t want it very soft. The two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Newbury on the first Saturday in March – which used to be the Vodafone Gold Cup but seems to have a different name every year now – a race in which Paul Nicholls has done well in the past (he had the first and second in the race last year with Big Fella Thanks and Pasco, he won it in 2009 with New Little Bric and with Natal in 2008, while Cornish Sett dead-heated with Horus in the race in 2006 and Nozic was beaten a neck by Madison Du Berlais in 2007), could be the race for him now.

8th January 2011

© The Irish Field, 15th January 2011