Horses To Follow » Pepe Simo

Pepe Simo

Pepe Simo did very well to run the talented mare Nadiya De La Vega so close in the Class 2 two-mile Novice Chase on Saturday’s Kempton card considering he was giving her 11lb. He was out the back and wide the whole way, yet he was still the only one to get close to her and the pair of them came clear.

He was held up on the outside, Sam Thomas probably keen to give him a good sight of his fences, and he was quite sketchy over the first few, getting in a bit too close, but he flew the first ditch to bring him closer. He came there still on the outside into the straight travelling well but the favourite Nadiya De La Vega quickened on the run to the third last and left Pepe Simo slightly outpaced. Although the mare hit the second last hard, she didn’t seem to lose much momentum and the Nicholls horse still had a couple of lengths to find. Despite putting in a really big jump at the last (almost too big) and landing running, he could get no closer than within a half a length before the winner pulled out a little bit more.

The Victory Note gelding is now getting his act together over fences. He was impressive in winning a jumpers’ bumper on his previous run, and he should continue to progress now as he increases in confidence. He is not necessarily a natural over fences, but he is getting better, this was just his third chase to he has ample scope for further progression. Also, he is not over-big for a chaser, so it may be that he is best in small fields – it was significant that his jockey was keen to keep him wide here. Good ground and a flat two miles seems to suit him well, so he could be well suited by the conditions of the Lightning Chase at Doncaster next Saturday. It rarely gets too soft at Doncaster.

Paul Nicholls’s horses were not in great form around this time; they were travelling into their races well enough but not finding very much (he had eight horses beaten at Kempton on the day, two of them short-priced favourites, and some of them ended up fading quite badly). We may be over-emphasising this point, but his strike rate in January up to this point was 11%, compare to percentages well into the mid-20s in the last three Januarys, and it is worth stating.

15th January 2011