Horses To Follow » Araldur


Araldur made a really promising start to his chasing career in Britain as a four-year-old three seasons ago, comfortably seeing off Chapoturgeon in a four-year-old novice chase at Warwick, with that horse going on to land what was the Jewson Chase, the novices’ handicap chase at Cheltenham, by a wide margin just two starts later. Araldur followed that up win with a hard-fought win in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase, rallying to get back up close home. He had one more run over fences that season, in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase over to two miles five furlongs, back at Sandown, but his jumping was nowhere near as fluent as it had been on his previous two runs and he was disappointing. He returned home with an injury after that race though, an injury that kept him off the track for over 15 months until, as he was still a novice over hurdles, Alan King gave him a run in a novice hurdle in May 2010. He was off again until the New Year after that and King decided to keep him over hurdles last season, when he had five runs, finishing second three times before winning at Kempton and Towcester.

He is a big horse, a real chaser, and the plan was always to go back over fences this season off his handicap mark of 145. He returned at Wetherby last Friday in a decent 0-150 listed handicap chase. Really weak in the market beforehand, on his first run in 214 days, he drifted to 16/1 on course, and was sent off at over 23/1 on Betfair. He travelled really well though and he jumped quickly, if a little low at times. He moved up as they started on the final circuit and he looked a likely winner when he travelled best of all at the top of the home straight, before lack of a recent run seemed to tell and he weakened. Fistral Beach came to join the leader Persian Gates over the second last, where Persian Gates fell, right across Araldur and stopping him almost to a walk. Araldur was booked for second at best at the time of Persian Gates’s fall, but he did well to pick up again from that, running on well to the line to retain second spot ahead of Charingworth and Mr Crystal, both of whom were finishing strongly.

The winner, Fistral Beach, was probably well handicapped here off a mark of 138, he has always been well thought of (he has started favourite or joint-favourite on 14 of his 16 career starts now) and he could go on to fulfil his potential this year. There was considerable promise from Araldur though, and Alan King’s gelding will be interesting now in two-and-a-half-mile handicap chases, and the fact that the handicapper has dropped him 1lb is a bonus. Of course, he always has the option to go back over hurdles at any point where his handicap mark of 127 could be quite appealing. Alan King has made his typical slow start to the season but he had a cracking day on Friday, another winner on Sunday and of course Medermit won the Haldon Gold Cup on Tuesday, he is getting going now, and Araldur should improve considerably for this run.

28th October 2011