Horses To Follow » Hey Big Spender

Hey Big Spender

Hey Big Spender’s effort to finish a never-nearer fourth in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on Saturday can be marked up quite considerably given he was badly hampered at the very first fence, losing most of his momentum when Crescent Island jumped across him, and he was always playing catch-up after that. He did really well to stay on to be fourth considering the strong pace they went from the outset made it hard for anything to get into contention from the rear, when the winner, although probably well-handicapped, raced prominently throughout, taking it up as far out as seven fences from the finish.

His jumping was not as fluent as it can be, certainly not as fluent as it was on his previous run at Warwick where he outclassed his rivals in a two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase; it may well be that the hampering at the first fence adversely affected his confidence, as he was scratchy at many of the fences after that, particularly the one in front of the stands first time round which he clouted. The fact that he was being forced to go a stride or two quicker than he is used to may have been a factor in this as well.

Colin Tizzard’s gelding has always had ability despite the fact that his wasn’t until his fifth run over hurdles, in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow when stepped up to two and a half miles, that he got his head in front. Since going chasing last season though he has been very consistent: despite tipping up three times and running in some very competitive handicap chases, he has won four of his 11 starts over fences thus far. He stayed on well here as he has done before, looking like three miles plus will be his trip, he is built and bred for three miles plus too, having a lot of size about him and being out of a winning point-to-pointer and a half-brother to the 1998 Midlands National winner Miss Orchestra. Yet when he gets into a rhythm over shorter he can be very good too, as he was when winning at Warwick on his previous run. It is interesting then that his two Festival entries are both over two miles five furlongs, in the Ryanair and the Byrne Group Plate, not the three mile handicap chase on the Tuesday (the old William Hill Trophy). Either way, he remains talented and is a fair bit better than the bare form of this race.

26th February 2011