Horses To Follow » Mr Gardner

Mr Gardner

Mr Gardner put up a cracking performance upped in grade to finish third behind Medermit and Captain Chris in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown on Saturday. He had looked really impressive on his previous run, his first run for almost two years (his first since he beat the talented Fistral Beach by 30 lengths in a maiden hurdle), clocking a really good time setting the pace himself to win what was admittedly a weak enough novices’ chase at Huntingdon, and Felix de Giles had him in prominent position here again. He duelled for the lead with Hidden Keel down the back straight and he was still bang there with every chance by the time they turned out of the back straight and made their way to the Pond Fence. The runners had closed up from in behind at this stage and as soon as they reached the straight the favourite Medermit had gone to the front, travelling well, but Mr Gardner was able to go with him and it would have been really interesting to see what would have happened had he not stumbled on landing over the second last, which just brought all his momentum to a halt. He got tired after that mistake and in the circumstances he did well to finish third and hold off the challenge of Rock Noir, with a long gap back to the fourth-placed horse.

Mentioned here after that performance at Huntingdon three weeks ago, it would have been understandable had the bounce factor come into play here, or had his jumping suffered in Grade 1 company on only his second ever start over fences, or had he simply just been outclassed in this company, but he wasn’t. This was one of the best, if not the best, novice chases run anywhere in Ireland or the UK this season to date, they clocked a good time and the top two look like playing a big part in the Arkle now at Cheltenham. The Jewson Chase is the race for Mr Gardner at the Festival, the Arkle shouldn’t be an option, he is a pure two-and-a-half-miler, and Nicky Henderson already has the Arkle favourite Finian’s Rainbow under his care anyway. Mr Gardner jumps well, is classy, and is hugely progressive, and it is easy to see him putting up a bold show in the Jewson.

5th February 2011