Horses To Follow » Michel Le Bon

Michel Le Bon

Michel Le Bon bounced right back to form, equaling his previous best Racing Post Rating, when winning the three-and-a-quarter-mile veterans’ handicap chase at Newbury last Saturday, recording a good time in the process, 0.19secs/furlong faster than the time that his stable companion Pacha Du Polder recorded when winning the Greatwood Gold Cup a little later on the card.

Paul Nicholls’ horse could get back on track now, with blinkers instead of cheekpieces working well here. Perhaps more important than the change of headgear was the ground, he seemed to appreciate the goodish ground even though before this run common consensus seemed to be that he was at his best on soft ground.

He is 10 and this was just a veteran’s race, but it was quite a good veterans’ race. Also, this was just his seventh run over fences and the 12th of his life, and he went through the race really fluently in his blinkers. He was always travelling kindly in the hands of Daryl Jacob – who was riding him for the first time – and he jumped much better on this ground than he had on his previous two runs, both on heavy. He showed a good attitude too as he took a bump over the third last, which didn’t faze him at all, and he came right away from Hey Big Spender after the final fence.

The handicapper hasn’t taken too many chances with him, he has put him up 9lb for this but, his confidence should be high now and he can go on again. He is still only 3lb higher than the mark off which he raced in the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup.

His record on flat, galloping tracks like Newbury and Wincanton is very good, and he does stay well so maybe the Scottish National could be the race for him now. The track should suit him and it is normally run on good ground. Given the fact that his jumping was much better here, the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown could also be an option.

2nd March 2013