Horses To Follow » Annacotty


Confirmed front-runner Annacotty was taken on for the lead by Super Villan through the early stages of the two-mile-five-furlong novices’ handicap chase at Cheltenham on Saturday, thereby forcing him to go a fair bit faster through the early stages than Ian Popham would ideally have liked, so Martin Keighley’s horse did really well to stick on as well as he did for second place.

The leaders did settle the pace down going past the winning post first time, but by that stage a lot of the damage would surely have been done. Even so, Annacotty settled into a nice rhythm going down the back straight, jumping well and travelling nicely. There was no let up, at no point could Popham get a breather into his horse, and the omission of the third last fence did not help in that regard. He kicked on again on the run to the second last fence, but it looked as though Indian Castle was travelling the better and, sure enough, Donald McCain’s horse joined him at the last and surged into a two-length lead. That said, there was a lot to like about the manner in which Annacotty stayed on up the hill when it looked like the winner was idling for a stride or two.

This was a big performance from Annacotty under top weight of 11st 12lb and off a rating of 144. There was a feeling that his win in the Grade 1 Feltham Chase at Kempton on King George day was not all that it might have been, with a couple of his main rivals under-performing on the day, as evidenced by an SP here of 8/1. However, he is a novice chaser to take seriously now, and he may still be under-rated. He wore blinkers for the first time in the Feltham, and he wore them again here, and these two runs have been the best of his life by some way. He proved on Saturday as well that, while he obviously goes well at Kempton, he can also perform left-handed on Cheltenham’s undulations, and that augurs well for the Festival. He may be a horse more for the three-mile handicap chase than the RSA Chase, but he is only six, this was just his seventh run over fences, and he should be able to progress again.

25th January 2014