Horses To Follow » Gandalfe


Because his stable-companion Starluck patently under-performed, there is a chance that the performance that Gandalfe put up in the two-mile novice chase at Sandown last Saturday has gone largely under the radar. He bowled along in front, his jumping was good and he had Mamlook and Starluck in trouble leaving the back straight, only just going down to the classy Mamlook. It is quite strange that Alan Fleming felt the need to run him here in the same race as Starluck since the strong gallop he went highlighted and exacerbated Starluck’s jumping frailties, although his stable star clearly performed some way below his best and this would have been a big part of his chasing education.

Gandalfe went on briskly and was athletic over his early fences, particularly the open ditch in front of the stands, the second. He hit the fourth, the fence down the side of the course, but went on to open up an advantage down the back straight. He measured the Railway fences really well as Starluck struggled to jump them with any fluency at all. The Laveron gelding got headed by Mamlook after the second last and looked as though he would weaken quite tamely out of things but to his credit he battled on strongly up the stiff finish in his first-time blinkers and only gave best in the shadows of the post, going down by a neck in the end.

The blinkers seemed to have helped him here, but this much-improved showing should not be solely accredited to the application of headgear. He is a big scopey horse who was racing over a trip that should prove to be short of his best as he looks like he will get further. It is possible that a return to a sounder surface helped him too (he had been kept off the track through the depths of winter) and his best form in three runs in France came on the best ground he encountered. He is only six, this was just his second run over fences, and he may well be under-rated next time he runs.

12th March 2011