Horses To Follow » Benefficient


Once again, after springing a surprise in a Grade 1 race, Benefficient has probably not been afforded the credit he deserves for winning the three-runner Irish Arkle Chase at Leopardstown on Saturday. He was admittedly advantaged by the jumping of his rivals – Arvika Ligeonniere fell at the fourth last fence, while Oscars Well blundered badly at the final fence – but Benefficient probably had the measure of Oscars Well anyway, and he could do no more than he did.

Settled last of the three runners early on, he travelled nicely, largely jumped accurately and, although Oscars Well traded very short when left in front at the point of Arvika Ligeonniere’s departure, Bryan Cooper never looked troubled on Benefficient, he was never more than two or three lengths behind Oscars Well. He tracked the leader around the home turn, easily drew alongside off the bend and Cooper hadn’t really asked him for anything when his rival blundered away his chance at the last.

Tony Martin’s gelding has shaped better than the bare result on each of his last three runs now. He had travelled exuberantly for much of the three miles of the Grade 2 Worcester Novices’ Chase at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting and had seen off some talented rivals before he was caught very late on by Harry Topper. He had also shaped better than the bare result behind Arvika Ligeonniere in the Racing Post Novice Chase over Christmas, making up quite a lot of ground from the fourth last fence before fading out of things in the home straight. He remains an under-rated horse. He is classy and he has the pace for two miles in this ground, but two and a half miles is probably his trip.

All his best form is on flat tracks – his three best runs now have been at Leopardstown (2) and Newbury – so he could be more an Aintree horse than a Cheltenham horse. The Manifesto Chase could be the race for him, and he could be allowed to go off at a big price in that, especially if he runs poorly in the Jewson or the Arkle in the interim. That said, he may be capable of running well at Cheltenham, especially in the Jewson, and he may be too big a price if he does run there.

26th January 2013