Horses To Follow » Roalco De Farges

Roalco De Farges

Roalco De Farges will not have been missed by many, but he was so impressive in winning the three-and-a-quarter-mile handicap chase at Newbury on Saturday that an 8lb hike may be lenient, and he remains a horse to keep on side.

Philip Hobbs’ horse travelled like the most likely winner of the race from a long way out. Held up out the back in the early stages, he made nice progress through his field down the back straight, moved up to take up the running at the third last, and kept on well all the way to the line, despite almost certainly idling as opposed to tiring on the run-in. He only got home by three lengths from long-time leader No Secrets in the end, but it is easy to argue that he had far more in hand than that.

It seems like the Dom Alco gelding has been around for ages, but he is still only nine and this was just his 10th chase. He was a nicely progressive novice chaser two seasons ago, when he rounded up his campaign with an excellent run to finish second to Tidal Bay in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown, with the pair of them having it between them from a long way out. Injury kept him off the track between then and his return in a handicap chase at Sandown last month, when he ran well for a long way before tiring understandably in the heavy ground. He then shaped a lot better when third in a decent little race at Ludlow, a run that obviously put him spot on for Saturday.

That 8lb hike takes him up to a mark of 135, and that is just 1lb higher than the mark off which he raced in the 2012 Bet365 Gold Cup. To put that run behind Tidal Bay into context, Paul Nicholls’ horse finished second to subsequent Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth in the Hennessy Gold Cup on his next run over fences off a mark of 166, 12lb higher than the mark off which he beat Roalco De Farges. That is top class form, and there is a chance that, on Saturday’s evidence, the grey horse is an even better horse now than he was then.

It looks like the Bet365 Gold Cup is again the plan for Roalco De Farges, and that makes a lot of sense. He obviously handles the track well, and he probably stays the distance. A less aggressive ride than the one he got two years ago would probably help him in that regard. He is only a 9/1 shot for the Sandown finale now, but that still looks generous. It is easy to see him going off at closer to half those odds if he lines up in the race.

22nd March 2014