Horses To Follow » Shutthefrontdoor


Shutthefrontdoor ran a cracker to finish second to Le Bec in the three-mile novices’ chase at Cheltenham on Saturday, and he should continue to progress now. Settled nicely towards the rear of the six-strong field by AP McCoy, the Jonjo O’Neill-trained gelding jumped and travelled well, and he appeared to be the most likely winner when he moved up on the inside around the home turn.

In fairness to Le Bec, he battled really well out in the centre, perhaps on the best of the ground, and he is also an exciting staying novice chaser. Also, he is a year younger than Shutthefrontdoor, and he is marginally more lightly-raced, so he has, in theory, at least as much scope for progression as the runner-up, possibly more. They are both exciting staying novice chasers. This race has been won by some talented chasers in the past, including Comply Or Die and Albertas Run, and the winning time was good, second fastest only behind Johns Spirit’s win in the Paddy Power Gold Cup on a day of high-class racing. However, it may be that it will be the runner-up who will emerge as the better horse in time. Shutthefrontdoor had to make ground to challenge Le Bec, who had travelled handily throughout, and he just moved to his left a little on landing over the final fence, before AP straightened him up back to his right. That manoeuvre, in terms of momentum, could have cost him most of the three-parts of a length by which he was beaten.

JP McManus’ horse is still learning about racing. He won his three bumpers two seasons ago, then won three of his four novice hurdles last season before rounding off the term by finishing fourth in the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival off a mark of 144, which was a huge performance for one so inexperienced. On his debut over fences at Aintree in October, he only just got up to beat Beeves by a half a length, but he had much more in hand than the bare winning margin, and that race was run over two and a half miles, which is short of his optimum. He is a staying chaser in the making, he is an exciting staying novice chaser for this season, and the 20/1 that bookmakers are still quoting about him for the RSA Chase looks big enough.

Interestingly, he is following an identical steeplechasing path to the path that Jonjo O’Neill followed with Albertas Run in 2007/08. Albertas Run finished second to Tidal Bay in the Aintree race that Shutthefrontdoor won, then won this race at Cheltenham’s November meeting before going on to win the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot and the RSA Chase at the 2008 Cheltenham Festival. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Shutthefrontdoor could emulate his erstwhile stable companion at the Cheltenham Festival. At the very least, he is a live RSA Chase contender.

16th November 2013