Horses To Follow » Vino Griego

Vino Griego

Vino Griego was trying three miles for the first time in the Listed Silver Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot on Saturday, and he very nearly lasted home despite being really fresh and enthusiastic for most of the race. He went to the front at Swinley Bottom and just swung off the bridle down the side of the course and into the home straight, jumping superbly in the main. He got in a bit tight to the third last, but that didn’t seem to affect him at all and he would have finished closer had he not stumbled on landing over the second last, lost most of his momentum and opened the door for The Minack. Even at that, once The Minack had gone on approaching the last, Vino Griego put in a big leap at the final fence and did really well to hold on for second place ahead of the strong-finishing Reve De Sivola.

The Minack is talented and progressive, he was competing under in what are probably his optimum conditions here – three miles, right-handed on soft ground – and he could go a long way over fences. Vino Griego is useful himself too though, he is a year younger than the winner, he is still just six, he was racing from 2lb out of the handicap here, he acted well in third-time blinkers, and he can go on from this. A drop back down to two and three quarter miles looks like it would be ideal after this, although three miles is not necessarily too far for him considering the ground was soft here and he had gone enthusiastically through the race, and that he was only beaten by a rapidly-progressive horse. He may be slightly better back on some better ground too.

He was a good novice hurdler and he can go even higher over fences now. He was an excellent fourth in the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase at the Festival last season, and the form of that race is working out really strongly. The first and second, Divers and Quantitativeeasing, finished third and second respectively in the Paddy Power Gold Cup, and the Quantitativeeasing has since gone on to win the December Gold Cup back at Cheltenham. Also, beaten horses Tharawaat, Swing Bill, Shakalakaboomboom, Nadiya De La Vega and Lastoftheleaders have all come out and won decent races this season. Vino Griego should be able to add to the strength of that form before too long, the handicapper has left him on his mark of 135 for this performance, which looks decidedly lenient, and he could have a big race in him off that mark.

17th December 2011