Horses To Follow » Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse did well in the end to win two-mile novices’ handicap chase at Wetherby on Saturday. It was a race in which lots of his rivals made errors. On the face of it, Solar Impulse was not blemish-free himself, he jumped really slowly at the second fence down the back straight, he slipped into the fence and slipped on landing, and Noel Fehily did really well to stay on his back. In Solar Impulse’s defence, he was distracted by the leader Halling’s Comet, who slowed into the fence in front of him and, that error aside, Paul Nicholls’ horse did jump well.

He and Turn Over Sivola started to come clear from the third last fence, but an error at the second last from Alan King’s horse just about ended his chance of winning the race. Even before that error, however, it did appear that Solar Impulse was gaining the upper hand. He jumped the last two fences well and kept on really willingly to win nicely from the talented Turn Over Sivola, who was reported by Alan King to be fit, with the front two clear of the rest of the field.

Interestingly, Paul Nicholls won this race last year with Valco De Touzaine who, like Solar Impulse, was a four-year-old French import. That horse won his next race, but probably has not progressed to reach the heights that looked within his range 12 months ago. Solar Impulse had plenty of racing last season over hurdles, but he shaped well on his chasing bow at Newton Abbot three weeks ago, and this was another step forward. He clocked a good time on the face of it, if it is to be trusted (there was something going on with the Wetherby times on Saturday), 0.53secs/furlong faster than Racing Post standard, the fastest time on a day of fast times and by far the fastest chase, far faster comparatively than the Charlie Hall Chase. Also, he was out in front from the fourth last fence, he could do even better if he has company for a little longer.

The handicapper raised him 5lb to a mark of 140 for Saturday’s win, but that is not harsh. He is only four and this was just his second chase, so he has bundles of scope for progression. He has a willing attitude, he should improve over fences as he gains in experience, and he will be of interest now in open handicap company.

1st November 2014