Horses To Follow » Saved By John

Saved By John

Saved By John put up a really impressive performance in the circumstances to go down by just a neck in a hot little two-mile handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday. He did get to the front early on, but he was continually pestered by Kie, and probably forced to go faster than Richard Johnson wanted, just in order to maintain his position at the head of the field.

Even after Kie made a bad mistake down at Swinley Bottom, there was still no let-up. Saved By John led into the home straight but, as the field closed up behind him, it looked like he was going to be swallowed up and that he would finish down the field, as his fellow pace-setter Kie did. So it is to his immense credit that he battled as well as he did over the last two fences. Indeed, it looked for a couple of strides on the run-in as if he might get back up to beat Alasi.

As it was, it was still a hugely admirable performance to get to within a neck of that talented mare, given how the race was run, with the pair of them over two lengths clear of the talented Drumshambo in third, and clocking a good time, the second fastest time on the day, comparatively faster than Al Ferof in the Amlin Chase, and slower only than the time that Annie Power clocked in landing the Coral Hurdle.

This was a huge run by Saved By John on just his fourth ever run over two miles. A point-to-point winner and mainly a two-and-a-half-mile hurdler for Terence O’Brien in Ireland, he won his maiden hurdle over two miles and six furlongs on his first run for Tim Vaughan at Newton Abbot in July 2011. Raced mainly over two and a half miles thereafter, he did win a handicap chase when dropped to two miles at Wincanton last January. He put up a nice performance at Aintree over two and a half miles on his debut this term, leading and looking home for all money when he held a clear advantage at the second last fence, but he just didn’t get home, and he was caught by Rossini’s Dancer on the run-in in a race from which the fourth horse, Kruzhlinin, has since won. That run was just another piece of evidence in the case for dropping him back to two miles again, and that move almost paid off handsomely on Saturday.

The handicapper has raised him just 3lb to a mark of 136 for Saturday’s run, and that is fair. There should be further progress in him now ridden aggressively over two miles. He obviously gets the trip well, and he handles soft ground well, so he should do even better during the depths of the winter when the ground gets softer than it has been this season to date. He has run just eight times over fences, and there could be more to come.

23rd November 2013