Horses To Follow » Captain Conan

Captain Conan

His performance wasn’t missed, but Captain Conan was impressive in winning the Arkle Trophy Trial at Cheltenham on Sunday. He has always been a chaser in the making and he really looked the part here, not making a semblance of a mistake.

Barry Geraghty settled him nicely in third place, where he lobbed along until getting closer at the end of the back straight, and he jumped right up to within half a length of the lead with a big jump over the open ditch at the top of the hill. Having effortlessly eased into the lead heading down the hill and flown the third last, his rider took a pull, which allowed Sire De Grugy, Third Intention, His Excellency and Rebel Rebellion to close right up again around the home turn.

There were only two and a half lengths separating the five of them as they turned in, but Geraghty only had to squeeze him for three of them to be dropped quickly, and it developed into a duel with Sire De Grugy up the hill. To his credit, Gary Moore’s horse laid down a strong challenge, and if Captain Conan hadn’t jumped the last two as well as he did then he might have had a real fight on his hands, but he won well in the end, picking up strongly when Geraghty asked him to after the last.

Captain Conan is not an overly exuberant traveller, he travels nicely within himself, and he gives the impression that he will stay further, but interestingly, given that he also trains Simonsig, who is due to drop back to two miles over fences, Nicky Henderson has always said that Captain Conan is a pure two-miler, and he showed here that he has bags of pace for this trip. His jumping really was good here for a debutant, it got better as the race went on, you couldn’t have asked for better jumps over the final four fences, and that is going to be a big asset over two miles. Also, he is only five, he can only progress.

Azertyuiop, 10 years ago, was the last horse to win this Arkle trial and go on and win the Arkle itself, but Captain Chris and Contraband were both second in this before winning the Arkle, and Captain Conan has to be a big player for the Arkle after this. His stable companion Simonsig still has to make his debut over fences, but he will have to put up a really impressive performance to better this one.

18th November 2012