Horses To Follow » Parsnip Pete

Parsnip Pete

Parsnip Pete put up a nice performance to win the two-mile handicap chase at Aintree on Sunday.

Settled nicely in fourth place behind the decent pace that was set by Back To Balloo, he travelled strongly, and his jumping throughout was fast and accurate. The only horse still under restraint as they left the back straight, he moved up nicely on the outside of Dunowen Point as that horse took up the running on the run to the third last fence, the first in the home straight, and he cruised into the lead on the run to the second last. Once over that fence, he quickly went two lengths clear, Paddy Brennan allowing himself the luxury of a long and lingering look behind. The second last is a long way from home on the chase track at Aintree, especially given that you have to cross the wide open space across the Grand National track before you get to the second last. He was probably in front earlier than his rider would ideally have wanted, but he was travelling and jumping so well, Brennan had no real option but to allow him stride on. He did come under pressure on the run to the final fence, and he didn’t pull any more than three lengths clear, but he pricked his ears at the last, popped over that fence nicely and, kept up to his job, he won with is ears pricked, leaving the impression that he had more left to give if more had been required.

This was a fine performance from Tom George’s horse. He is such a strong traveller, he does need a fast pace but, once he gets it, he is a classy two-mile chaser. Nikos Extra planted himself at the start, removing some of the race’s competitiveness, but Surf And Turf and Valco De Tauzaine are useful handicap chasers, and the winning time was good, the joint-fastest comparative race on the day and almost as fast as Racing Post par.

There was a feeling after the race that the Pasternak gelding needs to be fresh, and that he was always going to be at his best on his seasonal debut, but it may be that good ground is more important to him than freshness. It is true that he has gone well fresh in the past – his record on his seasonal debut now reads 12411 – but he has also gone well when he has had a recent run. He won the Red Rum Chase at Aintree in April just two weeks after he had been well beaten in a handicap chase at Ludlow, and he finished second behind Filbert in a good handicap chase on Hennessy weekend at Newbury last November on his third run of the season, just two weeks after his second run, which was just three weeks after his first.

He is eight years old now rising nine, but he just looks like a horse who is still improving. He reportedly had issues as a young horse, so it may be that he is only just finding his range in recent times. It will be interesting to see next week how the handicapper reacts next week to Sunday’s win, but hopefully he will not be too harsh. He is not an obviously improving youngster and he only got home by just over two lengths in the end. He does go well at Aintree, all his wins have been at flat tracks – Aintree, Ludlow, Newbury, Southwell, Haydock – and, while he has won on soft ground, he is probably at his best on good ground. Also, he does seem to have a slight preference for going left-handed. He will always be of interest in good two-mile handicap chases on flat tracks on goodish ground when it looks like a fast pace is assured, so he is a horse worth keeping in mind for the spring.

26th October 2014