Horses To Follow » Sgt Reckless

Sgt Reckless

Sgt Reckless did remarkably well to finish as close as he did in fourth place in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday. Starting towards the rear of the field, he got the first flight wrong, got shuffled back on the run to the second, and he was stone last of the 18 runners as they raced away from the stands for the first time.

That wasn’t ideal. You rarely want to be too far back at the Cheltenham Festival, and the pace in the Supreme Novices’ was dictated by Ruby Walsh on Vautour, who set a pace that suited those who raced handily. Vautour led all the way, runner-up Josses Hill was always handy, and third-placed Vaniteux was never too far off the pace. It wasn’t ideal that Sgt Reckless had to come from the back.

Mick Channon’s horse was still last at the third last flight. He must have been about 15 lengths behind the leader Vautour. Fifth-last as they straightened up for home, he picked up impressively from there for Dominic Elsworth and finished strongest of all, getting up for fourth place just before the winning line.

Always thought of as a speedy type who went well on tight tracks, this performance showed a new dimension to Sgt Reckless’ abilities. For starters, it proved that he could operate at Cheltenham – he had finished down the field in last year’s Champion Bumper on his only previous run at the track – but it also proved that he stayed a stiff extended two miles well. Indeed, on this evidence alone, he should improve for a step up in trip.

Good ground does appear to be important to him – and he is two for two in Polytrack bumpers – which is good news as we move towards the spring festivals, and he will be interesting wherever he goes next. We know that tight tracks do seem to suit him well, so he will be interesting at Aintree or Sandown, and it may be that he will improve again for a step up to two and a half miles.

11th March 2014