Horses To Follow » Urbain De Sivola

Urbain De Sivola

Urbain De Sivola did well to finish third behind Loose Chips and Ohio Gold in the two-and-a-half-mile novices’ handicap chase at Kempton in St Stephen’s day on his chasing debut. Settled on the inside behind clear leader Loose Chips through the early stages of the race, he was a little deliberate at his early fences, leaving his hind legs behind him on occasion and showing a tendency to want to shift to his left. He warmed to his task, however, as the race progressed. His jumping was much more assured and much straighter down the side of the course, and he turned for home in the leader’s slipstream, apparently travelling better and looking by far the most likely winner of the race.

His tendency to move to his left re-surfaced up the home straight, however. He went left at each of the last three fences, which cost him ground and momentum, and which ultimately was a significant factor in the loss of his winning chance. It was left to Ohio Gold to finish strongly and run Loose Chips to a short head, with Urbain De Sivola almost two lengths back in third place.

This was still an admirable effort by Paul Nicholls’ horse on his first run over fences. The winner (who was having his third run over fences) and runner-up (his eighth) were more experienced, the winner set a solid unrelenting pace, and the winning time was good (the only other race besides the King George and the Christmas Hurdle that broke par, and comparatively 0.24secs/furlong faster than the other novice chase on the card, the Grade 1 Feltham Chase).

Urbain De Sivola had proven his talent over hurdles, probably putting up a career-best over the smaller obstacles on his previous run when he finished second to the wayward Deep Trouble in a good handicap at Sandown in which he had subsequent winner Calculated Risk well behind him in sixth place. That was his first run this season and it was his debut for Paul Nicholls. He appears to have improved for that experience, and he should improve again for his chasing bow. On this evidence, he is set to be a better chaser than hurdler.

Just turned six, the son of Le Fou was a talented juvenile hurdler for Nick Williams when he won twice in Britain on goodish ground and when he won a listed hurdle at Auteuil on heavy. The handicapper has left him on a chase mark of 135 for Thursday’s performance, and he could be a really well-handicapped chaser now on that mark. He was rated 144 at his peak as a novice hurdler. He should progress for his first run over fences, and for his second run for Nicholls, and he should be even better returned to a left-handed track.

26th December 2013