Horses To Follow » Rajdhani Express

Rajdhani Express

The two-and-a-half-mile novices’ handicap chase at Kempton on King George Day wasn’t a bad contest, but Rajdhani Express turned it into a one-horse one. He travelled really strongly through the race – he was one of only three horses from an early stage who looked comfortable behind the contested pace set by Coole River and Valmari – and he came right away from the third last fence when Sam Waley-Cohen gave him a squeeze. It was a hugely impressive performance visually, and the time was really good, comparatively faster than the Feltham Chase and the King George, which is hugely significant for a 129-rated chaser, even allowing for the fact that the ground may have got slightly slower as the day went on (although the Feltham was just 35 minutes later).

The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding had a big reputation when he came over from France last season, he was rated 139 over hurdles, but he just struggled a little in competitive handicap hurdles over two miles, and then he raced too freely when he was stepped up to two miles and five furlongs on his third run. He was pulled up in his only chase when trained in France, but he has taken to fences really well now this season for Henderson after his breathing operation. He finished a close second at Huntingdon in a novice chase on his debut this term, and he was travelling all over Changing Times at Taunton on his next run when he just got in too tight to the third last fence and came down. He had travelled really strongly at Taunton and did so again here. Crucially, he saw the trip out well here.

He has just turned six, he has raced just four times over fences, and he still has lots of scope for progression. He obviously handles this testing ground well, but he is by Presenting so there is every chance that he will handle better ground well too. He was racing from a mark 6lb lower than his hurdles mark here so, although has been raised 13lb for this, he is capable of defying that rise. He is an exciting novice chaser. He could be even better than a handicapper.

26th December 2012