Horses To Follow » Hey Big Spender

Hey Big Spender

Hey Big Spender was strongly backed for the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on Saturday and he won in good style, despite making a bad mistake at the cross fence on the first circuit. There is still room for improvement in his jumping but he was good in the main here except for that mistake, when he breasted the fence, and one or two other minor instances. He took up the running around the home turn, possibly a little earlier than ideal, but he was travelling strongly, and he jumped well when it mattered up the home straight, staying on well to see off the strong-finishing The Hollinwell. He was value for more than the winning margin of a length and a quarter.

He next run is likely to be in the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas, and he must have a good chance there. He is suited by testing ground, his six career wins have all come on good to soft or softer, including a graduation chase victory at Carlisle last season on heavy ground, and the ground invariably rides pretty deep for the Welsh National, eight of the last nine renewals have been run on soft or heavy ground. His stamina is unproven at marathon trips, but he rallied really strongly to win that Carlisle race over three miles and a furlong on heavy ground, having looked beaten at the last, and he stayed on on his run before this at Cheltenham over three miles and three and a half furlongs having lost his place at the top of the hill.

He was much sharper on Saturday than he had been at Cheltenham, it is likely that he just needed that first run of the season (he was quite weak in the market at Cheltenham) and this latest run should have put him spot on for Chepstow. Colin Tizzard stated in a stable tour at the start of the season that he would love to run Hey Big Spender in a big handicap on deep ground, and so it is quite possible that he has been bringing him along with Chepstow in mind for a while now. The Rehearsal Chase was always the best guide to the Welsh National when it was run at Chepstow, a really good pointer to the big race, and even since it has been transferred to Newcastle and reduced to three miles from three and a quarter, although it doesn’t now has the bearing it did, it still fits in well with a horse’s preparation for the Chepstow marathon.

Hey Big Spender has been raised 6lb for this win, and that leaves him below only Neptune Collonges in the Welsh National weights, but high weights have been carried to success in the Welsh National – Carvill’s Hill carried top weight in 1991, Bonanza Boy’s second success came with 11st 11lb on his back and Halcon Genelardais was beaten a head in the race under 11st 12lb, and six other winners carried 11st or more to victory in the last 30 years, including Synchronised, who won it with 11st 6lb last year. Also, Colin Tizzard says that Hey Big Spender is at his best when he is giving weight away to inferior horses, and he could be a big player in the Welsh National.

26th November 2011