Horses To Follow » Noble Alan

Noble Alan

Put up here after falling three out in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham last year when travelling well and moving right into contention, Noble Alan did a similar thing in a listed handicap chase at Market Rasen in September, pitching on landing over the second last and unseating his rider having moved alongside the eventual winner Benny Be Good and looking a serious threat with Brian Harding yet to fully ask him for his effort. Unfortunately, departing when travelling well appears to be coming something of a habit for Nicky Richards’s gelding, as he did it again in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday, taking off too far from the fourth last, the open ditch at the top of the hill, and landing with his back legs on top of the fence, firing Dougie Costello out over his head into the air.

This latest mis-hap must have been particularly frustrating for connections because he had actually jumped really nicely down on the inside up until then, and he had crept closer on the run to the fence, moving up into seventh just before jumping it, with seemingly plenty left to give. He had closed up to be just behind Poquelin on the inside and, with horses on his outer, he just misjudged his point of take off and jumped too early. Obviously it was too far out to say how he would have fared, and the chances are that he wouldn’t have beaten Great Endeavour who was an easy winner, but he was still yet to be asked for his effort and he was going as well as anything at the time, so surely would have been in the shake-up.

He is not a bad jumper generally, he had really taken the eye with his jumping up to that point, but he has now fallen or unseated on three of his last five starts, and he fell once as a novice too. It just seems as though he has been pretty unlucky though, he had actually jumped the fence well at Market Rasen, and he certainly didn’t have a clear look at the fence here. There is still a big race like this in him, he won a Scottish Champion Hurdle three seasons ago, he is rated 142 over fences, and the suspicion is that that mark could yet be made to look quite lenient – if he had completed in any of the last three races where he has failed to do so, then that mark would surely be higher as he was still going well all three times. He is only eight, he was actually racing from 2lb out of the handicap here, and he is certainly not one to give up on. It could be that the December Gold Cup, the race in which he fell last season, is on his agenda again now, although Richards did mention the possibility of giving him a run back over hurdles now.

12th November 2011