Horses To Follow » West End Rocker

West End Rocker

Mentioned here after he beat Cornish Sett at Newbury last month (form that has worked out well), West End Rocker produced another big performance to win the Classic Chase at Warwick on Saturday. Alan King’s horse was always travelling well in about mid division and he closed up behind the leaders before they went out on their final circuit. It was clear from as far out as the sixth last that he was travelling much better than anything else and he ended up in front after a big jump at the fourth last. That was plenty early enough to be in front, especially in the testing conditions, but he was going so well that Wayne Hutchinson just allowed him stride on. Still with a lead of a couple of lengths turning for home, he inevitably idled a bit in front, just as he had at Newbury, and he let the favourite Minella Boys back into it after they jumped the last. But there was a lot to like about the way he responded to pressure and he was always holding Charlie Longsdon’s horse to the line, with the pair finishing clear.

This was another pleasing performance from Alan King’s gelding who was out with a leg injury for the second half of last season. Prior to his seasonal debut at Newbury, his trainer had said that he was not as forward as he would have liked him to have been, so it was probably a fair performance from the son of Grand Plaisir to have won coming off from such a long layoff. He won here in a similar style, he probably ended up in front too soon after travelling well through the race, and he was almost certainly worth more than the winning margin suggests. In any case he did well to beat Minella Boys here, a really well-backed favourite on the day, and he still looks progressive. The time was good and the front pair came clear of the rest of the field.

The form of his Newbury win has been boosted by the third horse Nicto De Beauchene coming out and winning by 16 lengths at Sandown. Also Eyre Square, who was a faller that day, has since come out and won at Ayr, and runner-up Cornish Sett won a good handicap chase at Wincanton on Saturday. West End Rocker is a nine-year-old but he still doesn’t have many miles on the clock. An 8lb hike is fair enough. He will be of interest wherever he goes next. Alan King is talking about him as potentially a Grand National horse, and that is not that fanciful. He is the right age for the race, he stays well, he is progressive, the fact that he never seems to want to win by too far makes it difficult for the handicapper to assess him, he is one of those Alan King horses who may have been really well handicapped coming into this season after a quiet time of it last term, and a rating of 141 is just about right for the National.

15th January 2011