Horses To Follow » Green Flag

Green Flag

With attention focussed primarily on Newbury and Fairyhouse over the weekend, and a little bit allowed for My Tent Or Yours in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, the performance that Green Flag put up in winning the first race at Newcastle on Saturday, run at 12.05pm before most people had finished their brunch, might have gone a little under the radar.

Green Flag’s jumping throughout this three-mile novices’ handicap chase was really good. Squeezed along a little going down the back straight for the final time, he was pushed up on the outside of the leading duo as they ran around the home turn. Scotswell backed out of it before they straightened up, and a good jump at the fourth last saw Green Flag move into the lead in front of Streams Of Whiskey. Nicky Richards’ horse was not a beaten horse when he fell at the second last fence, Brian Harding still appeared to have a little bit left, but he had led or disputed for a long way, and Green Flag was looking the stronger of the leading pair, as evidenced by the fact that Streams Of Whiskey never traded at lower than 2.34 in-running.

This was a fine performance from the winner. Lucinda Russell’s horse’s jumping was accurate and, while he looked in danger of getting outpaced at the end of the back straight, there was a lot to like about the manner in which he stuck to his task, and he just got stronger the further they went as his stamina kicked in. Also, the winning time was good, despite the fact that Peter Buchanan was easy enough on him from the second last fence once his main rival had fallen. It was the fastest comparative time of the day, it was 10 seconds faster than the Class 5 three-mile chase, and it was two and a half seconds faster than the time that Hey Big Spender clocked in winning the Class 1 Rehearsal Chase later in the day.

Green Flag is now three for three over fences, he is only six years old and he still has massive scope for progression. He won a point-to-point and he stayed three miles over hurdles, and it looks like he might be even more effective with a greater test of stamina than this three miles on goodish ground presented. His trainer said afterwards that he would be even better on softer ground, and that makes him really interesting as we move into the depths of winter. He is in the Paris Pike Chase at Kelso on Sunday, but that is over slightly less than three miles and, if the rains do not arrive before then, he may be vulnerable there. He is still a novice, so he has lots of options, but he could be a horse for one of the good marathon handicap chases – like the Eider Chase back at Newcastle – run on soft ground later in the season. He is now unbeaten in two runs at the Gosforth Park track.

30th November 2013