Horses To Follow » Alpha Ridge

Alpha Ridge

Despite looking all over the winner before the straight before fading to finish fourth, Alpha Ridge still put up a big performance in the three-mile Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on Friday. He travelled like the most likely winner throughout the race, and having started off racing just in behind the leaders, he ended up jumping to the front going down the back straight on the first circuit. But it was at the end of the back straight second time that he just got into a bit of a scrap with Hangover. He eventually won that duel and looked by far the most likely winner when he went clear turning for home, having travelled and jumped powerfully throughout the race. He traded at odds-on in-running, as short as 1/6, but he had probably used up a lot of energy to get the front and he was eventually overhauled after the second last fence. Also, it may have been the case that he just didn’t like being out in front on his own, as he did rally again from the last fence after being passed, going down by just over seven lengths to the winner Siegemaster in the end.

This was a hugely encouraging performance from Paul Nolan’s gelding. He jumped really well, if a little to his left. It is significant that he was really well-backed beforehand, he has always promised to be a very good staying chaser – he actually finished second to Pandorama in the Drinmore last season – but he just hasn’t delivered on that promise yet. It may only be now that he has started to realise his full potential over fences, and if that is the case he has the look of a really well-handicapped horse. The son of Glacial Storm was a high-class hurdler, he is rated 151 over hurdles, but he is built to be a chaser – he ran in two point-to-points before he began his racing career – and he is potentially really well handicapped over fences on a mark of 135. He may be starting to get his act together over the larger obstacles now, he has actually run just eight ever starts over fences, and there could be a big prize in him now. It is also worth noting he only really got going over hurdles in his second season where he won four times out of seven runs.

All his best form over hurdles was on soft or heavy ground, and there could be a big handicap chase in him now. He would be interesting in the Irish National, or in one of the big staying handicap chases in Britain, like the Eider Chase or the Midlands National, or the Blue Square Gold Cup at Haydock on 19th February, ideally on a left-handed track, and he should do better if ridden with a little more restraint. He is interesting again now.

28th January 2011