Horses To Follow » Knockgraffon King

Knockgraffon King

Knockgraffon King was value for a fair bit more than the two and a half lengths by which he won the three-mile handicap chase at Newcastle on Saturday. Always travelling well just behind and towards the outside of the leaders, he moved up to dispute the lead at the first fence in the back straight, ears pricked. He jumped into the lead at the third fence in the back straight and, when he got in tight to the next, the fact that he was able to pick up again immediately to retain his advantage told you that he had plenty more left to give.

He did have to be ridden along by Jason Maguire over the final fence in the back straight and into the home straight, but he was pricking his ears and appeared to be just dossing. He got in tight to the fourth last fence, and that allowed Rolecarr to close to within about a length but, as soon as he did, Knockgraffon King just galloped on away from him again. He did the exact same thing at the final fence, got in tight and allowed Rolecarr to close, but again he just moved away from him again, retaining a two-and-a-half-length gap all the way to the line.

This was just Knockgraffon King’s second run for Donald McCain. A bumper winner and a really promising novice hurdler – he was second to Benefficient on his hurdling bow – for Noel Meade, he didn’t quite build on that promise last season as a chaser. He did not show a great deal on his first run for McCain either at Hexham in December, but this was much more like it. He seemed to relish the heavy ground and he stayed the three-mile trip well.

The handicapper raised him by 6lb, but he probably won with a fair bit more than that in hand. That leaves him on a mark of just 118, and that mark could under-estimate his ability considerably. There could be a good staying handicap chase in him off that mark. That type of rating should get him into the Eider Chase in the low 10sts, and that would be a really interesting target for him now, back at Newcastle and stepped up in trip.

4th January 2014