Horses To Follow » Imperial Vic

Imperial Vic

Imperial Vic ran a cracker to go down by just a neck to Green Flag in a near-three-mile novices’ chase at Kelso on Saturday.

An habitual front-runner, it was not ideal for Michael Smith’s horse that he was taken on in the early stages by Witness In Court, who actually cannoned into him at the first fence, and made the running from that point. Settled in second place behind and towards the outside of Donald McCain’s horse, the pair of them set a strong pace, quickly going about eight lengths clear of their field down the back straight first time. The field closed to within about three lengths as they went out on the final circuit, and Imperial Vic moved to the front as Witness In Court came under pressure at the end of the back straight and faded. Imperial Vic himself came under pressure at what should have been the fourth last, and it looked as if Green Flag was travelling by far the better of the pair of them, so it was to the Old Vic gelding’s immense credit that he battled on as well as he did to get to within a neck of the winner at the line. Foundry Space fell at the final fence when in third place, but he probably would not have got close to the front pair, who finished 20 lengths clear of Full Jack, who ultimately finished third, and the winning time was really good, not far of par and by far the fastest time of the day.

It is probable that Imperial Vic went a fair bit too fast through the early stages of the race, as evidenced by the fact that his fellow front-runner faded badly from the fifth last fence and was actually pulled up. To that end, the runner-up can probably be marked up a fair bit on the bare form of this performance. The winner Green Flag is a young horse of Lucinda Russell’s who is rated 132 over hurdles and who was well-backed on this, his chasing bow. He had the run of the race, held up, as he was, off the fast pace, whereas Imperial Vic did not. A point-to-point winner who won three of his six races over hurdles last season, he probably left his hurdles form well behind when he won his beginners’ chase on his chasing bow over three miles at Perth last March. He led all the way that day, he jumped well and he stayed on well to come home 10 lengths clear of Sivola De Sivola, who has won his only two races since.

Imperial Vic has been raised just 2lb for his Kelso run to a mark of 137, which is more than fair. He was giving 7lb to the 132-rated winner but, more importantly, he is probably a fair bit better than the bare form of that run. He jumps well, he stays well, and he could do even better for an even greater test of stamina, either stepping up in trip beyond three miles, or racing on even easier ground – his best two runs over hurdles were on soft ground – or a combination of both. He will be of interest now in any staying novice or handicap chase, especially if it looks like he will be left alone up front.

19th October 2013