Horses To Follow » Victrix Gale

Victrix Gale

The worry about Victrix Gale before the mares’ handicap chase at Fairyhouse on Sunday concerned the drop in trip to two and a half miles, and sure enough it was the distance that probably proved to be her undoing in the end.

Settled out the back of the field by Paul Carberry, her jumping down the back straight wasn’t as fluent as it might have been, she was careful and deliberate more than accurate and fluent, with the result that she was further back than her rider would ideally have wanted over this shortened trip. She was still last of the nine runners as they turned for home, fully 10 or 12 lengths behind the leader She’s Got Grit. Switched to the near side, she did make significant ground over the last two fences, but it never looked likely that she was going to get there, and she ultimately finished fourth, but just three lengths behind the winner, and she would have been a little closer had she not had to be switched a little inside the final 30 yards.

Tony Martin’s mare needs a greater test of stamina in order to be seen to best effect. Two and a half miles on ground that is just on the soft side of good is not sufficient. All of her best recent runs have been over three miles or further. She finished second in a three-mile-seven-furlong handicap chase at Perth last April, the front two clear, she won a good handicap hurdle over three miles on soft ground at the Galway Festival in July, and she ran well to finish fourth behind Handy Andy in the three-mile amateur riders’ handicap chase at Cheltenham’s last month.

That run proved that she could go well at Cheltenham, and she would be interesting if she was aimed at the Cheltenham Festival now, because, while she handles soft ground, she is probably at her best on good ground. The Kim Muir could be the race for her. Jamie Codd got on well with her when he rode her for the first time in that amateur riders’ race at the November meeting, he is one of the top amateur riders in Ireland, and he has won the Kim Muir twice. She could still be well-handicapped over fences on a mark of 126, just 1lb higher than the mark off which she raced on Sunday – she is now rated 134 over hurdles – and the Kim Muir would be an interesting project with her.

1st December 2013