Horses To Follow » Mon Parrain

Mon Parrain

Mon Parrain was put up here after a very good round of jumping saw him cruise to a 22-length win on his British debut in a handicap chase at Sandown off a mark of 133, and his jumping was arguably even better over the National fences in the Topham Chase last week. Many may mark the five-year-old down as having stamina and class limitations off this new mark of 149 after this, but that would probably be a mistake. He jumped the last like a fresh horse, not a tired one, and he just seemed to idle out in front as they came to the elbow. He visibly picked up again after Always Waining had gone past him (taking the elbow with the better line), going away from Scotsirish in third and closing again on the winner.

Although he was beaten here, it was probably a step up on the Sandown form, as that form was slightly questionable as he beat some of exposed, out of form horses that day, albeit visually hugely impressively, and the second and third have upheld the form since, the second running particularly well in a veterans’ chase at Ascot next time out. Always Waining is a completely different horse around the National fences, really coming alive around here and, having won this last year, he had been trained for the National itself all year so would have come here in peak form. Yet Mon Parrain, half his age and giving him 16lb, looked all over the winner having jumped the last, with Ruby Walsh yet to move on him. In hindsight, Ruby might have held onto the horse for longer as being out in front on the long run-in gave the second horse a clear target to run at, although in fairness, the horse was jumping and travelling so well he practically took himself to the front down the side.

Mon Parrain remains a hugely exciting prospect, and while some are talking him up as being a potential National candidate now for next year, that is an unrealistic target for a six-year-old, even one who jumps as well as him. Besides, he could easily have developed into a serious pattern race animal by then. In the shorter term, he could be one for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November, as he has proved here he has no trouble jumping in a big field that contest often goes to a progressive young horse who will go on to prove themselves a lot better – Celestial Gold and Exotic Dancer won it as six-year-olds in recent years, and Imperial Commander won it in 2008.

8th April 2011