Horses To Follow » Melodic Rendezvous

Melodic Rendezvous

Melodic Rendezvous did well to win the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday on his first run since last February, giving weight to all his rivals. Travelling well settled towards the back of the small field, he moved up on the outside of Cotton Mill to dispute third place on the run across the top of the course, but he slipped a little on the home turn, which could have unnerved him, and he made a mistake at the second last flight. That left him three lengths behind the leader Far West, who had kicked for home, and playing catch up, suddenly under pressure. If he had chucked it then, on his first run for 10 months, you would have easily forgiven him, but he didn’t. He responded to Nick Scholfield’s urgings, displaying a really likeable willing attitude, moved past Ahyaknowyerself on the run to the final flight, and actually jumped the last in unison with Far West before powering clear to win by almost two lengths.

This is solid form. The Elite Hurdle has been won in the past by Well Chief, Celestial Halo, and last year by Zarkandar, and there is every reason to believe that this year’s renewal was well up to standard. Runner-up Far West was well-backed and, while he was bidding to become the first four-year-old to win the race since Well Chief, he was one of last season’s leading juveniles and, hailing from the Paul Nicholls yard, you can be sure that he would have been well-primed for this meeting and for this race, one which Nicholls has won three times in the last four years. Jeremy Scott’s horse showed really likeable battling qualities to get past Far West after making that mistake at the second last, and the front two pulled clear of useful rivals, clocking a good time, just 0.19secs/furlong slower than standard on good to soft ground, and by far the fastest comparative time of the day.

Melodic Rendezvous was hugely progressive last year as a novice hurdler. Second to Champagne Fever in the champion bumper at Punchestown in 2012, he landed the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle last season on just his third run over hurdles, and he followed up by beating Puffin Billy well in a good novices’ hurdle at Newbury on Aon Chase day. Unfortunately, a poor scope ruled him out of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, for which he had been quietly fancied, and Jeremy Scott drew stumps for the season.

The trainer said before Saturday’s race that it was just a starting point for his Where Or When gelding, that he would come on for the run, a notion that was reflected in his weakness in the market. There was even a suggestion that he might go over fences sooner rather than later. That plan is obviously on hold now, and he could easily make his mark among the top hurdlers. Of course, he is going to have to continue to progress if he is going to be a Champion Hurdle horse, but he has lots of scope to do just that. He may continue to be under-rated, given that he does not come from one of the big yards, and he could be a horse who is worth following through the season.

9th November 2013