Horses To Follow » Fox Appeal

Fox Appeal

Fox Appeal ran a lot better than his finishing position suggests in the Listed two-mile-six-furlong handicap chase at Market Rasen on Saturday. Weak in the market beforehand, Emma Lavelle’s horse was wide the whole way, and his jumping lacking fluency on occasion. Even so, he travelled well down the back straight, moved up nicely, still wide, around the home turn, and he looked the most likely winner when he ranged up to join leader Houston Dynamo on the run to the second last fence.

He pricked his ears at that point, but a slight mistake at the second last fence allowed Houston Dynamo back at him. Suddenly he was not travelling so well, and another mistake at the final fence ended any chance that he might have had of winning the race. He faded fairly rapidly from there, only just clinging on to fourth place in the end.

Emma Lavelle won this race last year with the 22/1 shot Bouggler, and Fox Appeal was her only runner in the race this year, so you can’t say for sure that Fox Appeal had not been primed for Saturday’s race. However, the trainer’s horses are just getting going now, she has only had 10 runners so far this season and just one winner, and you have to think that this is just a stepping stone for Fox Appeal into the season. You have to think that he will have other targets as we get into the heart of the National Hunt season, and that hypothesis is backed up by his weakness in the market for Saturday’s race. This was his first run since Aintree last April, he had been off the track for longer than any of his rivals (only one day longer than Attaglance, admittedly), seven of the 12 runners had had a run in the previous 60 days, and it was probably a lack of fitness that told in the end.

The Brian Boru gelding was an exciting novice chaser last season. He beat the useful Raya Star at Ascot in December, and then he wasn’t beaten far by Valdez and Arnaud over an inadequate two miles in a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster in January, before going down narrowly to Balder Succes and God’s Own in the Pendil Chase at Kempton in February. Two and a half miles is probably his optimum trip, and he is still feasibly handicapped on a mark of 151 over fences. He is only seven and this was just his seventh chase. He could be a high-class handicap chaser this term, or he could progress to be even better than a handicapper.

27th September 2014