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Balder Succes

Balder Succes stamped himself as one of the best two-mile novice chasers around this season when he ran out an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Maghull Chase at Aintree on Saturday. Next Sensation set a fairly frenetic pace, as is his wont, but Balder Succes didn’t duck it. He sat in third place from early, up on the outside of Trifolium who tracked the leader. Trifolium went on at the top of the home straight, but it was quickly apparent that the Alan King horse was travelling better, and he eased up to join the Gigginstown House horse at the second last. He went on from Trifolium on the run to the final fence, flew that obstacle and cleared away up the run-in to score by four lengths, with Simply Ned staying on from the rear to get up for second place.

You can argue that Balder Succes benefitted by by-passing Cheltenham, whereas Trifolium had had quite a hard race in the Arkle, but there were many horses – Pineau De Re, Balthazar King, Ma Filleule, Whisper, Lac Fontana, Josses Hill, Silviniaco Conti, Boston Bob, Uxizandre, Duke Of Lucca, Guitar Pete, Holywell – who proved that you can run big races at both Cheltenham and Aintree, and there is no reason to believe that Trifolium under-performed. Indeed, the Timeform rating of 152 that Charles Byrnes’ horse earned in the Maghull equalled the rating that he was awarded for his run in the Arkle, and Balder Succes beat him at least as well as Western Warhorse and Champagne Fever beat him in the Arkle. More than that, however, Balder Succes travelled really well through his race, and could have been named as the most likely winner from a long way out.

The Goldneyev gelding continues to progress. He has now won his last three races and, were it not for a poor run in the Henry VIII Chase at Sandown behind Hinterland, when the Alan King horses were going through the doldrums, he would be unbeaten in five completed runs over fences. This was his best performance yet, however. Trifolium is top class, he is a really sold yardstick, and the winning time was really good, the only time that dipped below standard at the entire Aintree Grand National meeting.

You have to think Champion Chase now. He stays two and a half miles, which is no liability in the Champion Chase, but he has two-mile pace. It is a little bit of a concern that he has fallen or unseated in three runs at Cheltenham, twice over hurdles – once in the 2012 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and once in the 2013 Champion Hurdle – and once over fences, at the second last fence when he looked set for victory in a novices’ chase at last year’s October meeting. However, that may be down to coincidence more than anything else. He had jumped well up to that point on what was his only run over fences at the track, and the sun may have been in his eyes at the second last that day. The two-mile division is crying out for new blood. With the notable exception of the reigning champ Sire De Grugy, and in the continued absence of Sprinter Sacre, the division lacks depth, and 16/1 about Balder Succes for next year’s race probably under-estimates his prospects at least a little. More immediately, he would be of interest at 8/1 if he were to take his chance in the Champion Chase at Punchestown.

5th April 2014