Things We Learned » Heffernan ride

Heffernan ride

The criticism that Seamie Heffernan received for his ride on So You Think in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on Sunday was unfair. It often happens like that, a horse finishes fairly well from off the pace, particularly a horse who was as well-backed as So You Think was, and natural instinct is to have a go at the rider, without taking the situation in its entirety into consideration.

It was always going to be difficult for Heffernan from his wide draw in stall 14. It is not a coincidence that no horse drawn higher than 10 has finished in the first two in the Arc since 2003. You have three choices from a wide draw in the Arc: go forward early and expend valuable energy, sit in mid-division and concede ground by going wide, or take back early and tuck in. With your stable companion Treasure Beach up there in front, stretching the field along, the third option was the most sensible one, and that was the one that Heffernan chose.

The rider had bagged the rail before they reached le petit bois. After that, you are trusting to fortune, and Heffernan enjoyed little. He couldn’t have been any closer than he was at the top of the home straight, given how the race was run, and he made his ground up the home straight among horses towards the inside, which is much more efficient than wide on the outside, as Sarafina was, as long as you get the gaps.

On top of all that, even if he could have been closer at the top of the home straight, while he might have been able to make up the length by which he missed out on the runner-up spot, it is stretching the story beyond credibility to say that he might have beaten the winner, such was the magnitude of her superiority.

Sofast sogood

Sofast’s performance in finishing second in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on Sunday was at least as meritorious as the performance that Dabirsim put up in winning the race, despite the post-race hype about the winner, fuelled, no doubt, by the run up the rail and the fact that it was Frankie’s 500th. (Watch the video again.) The winner is good, but the runner-up could be at least as good, possibly better.

Trainer form

Peter Chapple-Hyam’s horses appear to be in top form these days. After a torrid mid-summer period, when the trainer had just seven winners from 61 runners, the yard’s horses seem to have turned a corner of late, headlined by Caravan Rolls On’s win in a good handicap at Ascot last Friday at 14/1, and Crying Lightening’s (note to Joey Barton and Claudio Pizarro, and Pearl Bloodstock for that matter: lightening = making less heavy, lightning = the thing that goes with thunder) win in a listed race at Ascot last Saturday at 16/1.

Chapple-Hyam has had three winners, two seconds and a third from his last nine runners, and his horses continue to be under-rated, as evidenced by the fact that they have shown a level-stakes profit for each one of the last four months. Don’t be surprised if Samminder and Sunday Times out-run their respective odds in the Middle Park Stakes and the Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket this afternoon.

Jumpers bubbling under

We have already seen Loosen My Load and Sizing Europe and Rubi Light and First Lieutenant and Tavern Times. All going well, we are soon to see Cue Card and Menorah and Captain Chris and Forpadydeplasterer and Silviniaco Conti and Reve De Sivola and Grand Crus and Realt Dubh and Noble Prince. Exciting, innit?

October pointer

And speaking of jumpers and bubbling, the October Maiden, previously known as the Kilnaleck Maiden (and once, rather bizarrely, known as the Amsterdam Here We Come Maiden), run at Navan on Wednesday, is significant. Hardy Eustace finished fifth in the race in 2002, his curtain-raiser to a season that saw him win the Royal Bond Hurdle and the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle, and Dessie Hughes brought him back to Navan in 2003, when he won the race before going on to land the Champion Hurdle the following March.

In 2004, Back In Front won the race, Macs Joy finished third and Sweet Kiln finished fourth; Sir Oj finished fourth in the 2005 renewal before going on to win what is now the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham two months later; subsequent MCR Hurdle Puyol won the race in 2008, subsequent Irish Champion Hurdle runner-up Donnas Palm won it in 2009 and this year’s Galway Hurdle runner-up, Fosters Cross, won it last year, with this year’s Leopardstown Chase winner Rare Bob back in 10th place.

This year’s race was won by Hidden Universe – fourth in the race last year – who stayed on powerfully up the hill to win impressively. Still just five, the Dermot Weld-trained gelding could make up into a high-ranking hurdler this term.

Runner-up Chaperoned also ran a cracker, Jessica Harrington’s filly would almost certainly have won a Grade 3 juvenile hurdle at Fairyhouse in April but for crashing out at the second last flight, and she is exciting. Also, third-placed Louisville Lip travelled best of all to the two-furlong pole before his stamina seemed to expire, while the Peter Fahey-trained He’llberemembered ran a fairly eye-catching race to finish fifth on his first run since last February.

It’s a race to save in your video vault.

© The Irish Field, 8th October 2011