Horses To Follow » Captain Chris

Captain Chris

Captain Chris ran a quite remarkable race to finish fourth in the Ryanair Chase on Thursday. Jumping out to his right, as is his wont (although not nearly as violently as he had done when he was pulled up in the Argento Chase on his previous run), the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding looked to be fighting a lost cause when under pressure and no better than seventh rounding the home turn.

He kept on really well from that point, however, and actually threatened to get involved in the finish for a few strides between the final two fences. His effort did flatten out after that, but he still kept on well up the hill to finish fourth. Despite the fact that he won last year’s Arkle at Cheltenham, Captain Chris simply has to go right-handed, such is his penchant for jumping to his right. He simply loses too much ground at his fences at a left-handed track. As well as that, all the evidence that we have suggests that he is almost certainly more effective now at a trip that is longer than the two miles and five furlongs of the Ryanair Chase – his trainer had said that the Gold Cup was his most likely Cheltenham engagement a couple of days before declaring him for the Ryanair.

Put all of that into the mix, and the Guinness Gold Cup at the Punchestown Festival is the ideal race for him. Hobbs loves having his horses primed for Punchestown, Captain Chris goes well on good ground and appears to be at his best in the spring – all his six career wins have been between February and May. He won the Grade 1 two-mile novices’ chase at the 2011 Punchestown Festival, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go close if he takes his chance in the Gold Cup this year.

15th March 2012

© The Sunday Times, 25th March 2012