Horses To Follow » Mr Gardner

Mr Gardner

Mr Gardner ran well for a long way on his first run for nearly 22 months in the Class 2 Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Wincanton on Saturday. He was unlucky in that fellow front-runner Fiendish Flame was in the race, and that The Sawyer wanted to lead as well. All three went too fast, but Mr Gardner lasted a lot longer than the other two, despite the fact that he was widest of the three and was the least fluent of the three over the early fences.

His jumping warmed up, however, he was impressive down the back straight on the second circuit, he saw off the other two pace-setters over the sixth from home and he was still seemingly travelling quite nicely at that stage. The race had been set up for the hold-up horses though, and Big Fella Thanks and Consigliere went on at the end of the back straight, but Mr Gardner kept on well enough to finish fourth, beaten only just over a length for third and coming back at the third-placed horse Tullamore Dew from the second last fence, despite the fact that Tom O’Brien was not hard on Mr Gardner up the home straight.

Mr Gardner was a high-class novice chaser for Nicky Henderson two seasons ago, and if he can improve for this run – and he should at least improve in terms of fitness (his new trainer Polly Gundry hasn’t had a winner since last April) – then he will be of interest wherever he runs next, especially if it looks like he will get an easy lead. He has been dropped a further 2lb after this run so is now 13lb below his old mark and he still has lots of scope. He has just turned 10, but this was just his fourth run over fences and just the seventh of his life under Rules.

5th January 2013