Horses To Follow » Sir Des Champs

Sir Des Champs

Sir Des Champs continued his winning run on Saturday in the Grade 2 novices’ chase over two miles and five furlongs at Leopardstown, which means that he has now won six in a row and all five since coming over from France. He did well to win on Saturday, he was under pressure around the home turn and he made a fairly bad mistake at the last, but he picked up well to beat Hidden Cyclone and Fists Of Fury. Fists Of Fury is probably not top class, he had been beaten a long way in a novices’ chase at Cheltenham previously, and Hidden Cyclone may have been a bit below himself, but it was still a fine performance from the winner, who just keeps on progressing.

He is not flashy, but he just keeps on getting the job done, and the form of his two previous runs over fences has worked out well. Gran Torino, whom he beat in his beginners’ chase, won next time out, with Mackeys Forge, who was third in that beginners’ chase, running a nice race when narrowly giving best to Shot From The Hip at Fairyhouse on his only subsequent start to date. Knockfierna, who was still narrowly in front of Sir Des Champs in the Grade 2 Greenmount Park Novice Chase at Limerick over Christmas when running out, won a Grade 3 herself next time.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding’s form looks strong, he added another Grade 2 on Saturday, and he has earned himself another visit to Cheltenham now. He did remarkably well to win the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at last year’s Festival from so far back on just his second run for Willie Mullins, proving the uphill finish at Cheltenham suits him well. Which race he runs in at this year’s Festival in is another matter. He stayed the two-mile-five-furlong trip so strongly at last year’s Festival, and stayed on well again to win here, that maybe the RSA Chase is the race for him at Cheltenham, not the Jewson. The complication is that his owners, Gigginstown House Stud, have two equally viable candidates for the race in another unbeaten chaser, the hugely impressive Last Instalment, and last year’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle winner First Lieutenant. Willie Mullins has won three of the last 13 runnings of the RSA Chase though, and if Sir Des Champs takes his chance in it, he will be a serious player. He will be a player in whichever race he ends up contesting.

28th January 2012