Horses To Follow » All For Free

All For Free

All For Free failed to land the hat-trick in the two-mile handicap chase at Sandown on Saturday won by Hold Fast, having won previously at Ascot and Ludlow, but he was up significantly in grade and he enhanced his reputation in finishing second in what was a really good handicap chase. Settled towards the outside by Alain Cawley, quite well back in the field, he jumped up well at the first fence on the final circuit, but got a little further behind than ideal down the back straight, which meant that he was always playing catch up after that. He was only in a share of sixth place as they began the turn out of the back straight, he had only just taken that position outright as they jumped the Pond Fence, and he was still sixth over the second last. He challenged between horses between the final two fences and made up good ground, just getting up on the line to snatch second from Tanks For That, which was as well as he could realistically have done, as he was never in a position to challenge the impressive winner Hold Fast.

It never looked like he was going to win, but they didn’t go as fast as they could have done, there were three or four front-runners in the race and they could have gone a really strong pace, but their riders were obviously forward-thinking enough to realise this, that a breakneck pace would not help any of them, and that meant the pace didn’t collapse. The winner and third had been in the van just about throughout, so All For Free deserves credit for running on as well as he did to take second place.

He has only just turned six, he was the youngest horse in this race, and one of the most inexperienced over fences, and he remains highly progressive. He should improve even further with a step up in trip, he is crying out for further now. It was stamina after all that won him the day at Ascot on his penultimate start, he looked in a little bit of trouble around the home turn there before powering clear once they levelled up for home. He has only gone up 1lb for this run, and that leaves him potentially really well-handicapped on a mark of 125 if he does step up in trip.

7th January 2012