Horses To Follow » God’s Own

God’s Own

There is a chance that God’s Own will not get due credit for the performance that he put up in winning the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on Tuesday.

Tom George’s horse was the winner on merit. He travelled well through his race, he jumped well, he eased to the front on the run to the fourth last fence and, despite a mistake at that obstacle, it never looked likely that he was going to be caught over the last three fences. He came clear from Balder Succes on the run-in, and he posted a really good time, 0.15secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

Here’s why the form may be under-rated, here’s the theory: at this stage of the season these high-class horses have bigger targets than the Haldon Gold Cup in the coming weeks and months, Tuesday’s race was just a starting point for most. Also, Hinterland pulled up, Cue Card was racing over a distance that is well short of his best these days, and the proximity of 50/1 shot Oscar Hill in third place holds the form back. However, that argument is weak in the face of the obvious strength of the race. Balder Succes was well-fancied and well-backed, as was Cue Card, one of the highest-rated chasers in training, who was backed from an opening show of 5/2 to an SP of 13/8. He was given every chance too. And God’s Own beat them all easily in that good time.

Tom George’s horse appeared to be just below top class last season as a novice chaser. He was beaten by Next Sensation in a novices’ handicap chase at Doncaster last December on his chasing bow, and he could only finish fourth of five behind Valdez in the Grade 2 Lightening Chase back there in December. However, he progressed from that to run Balder Succes to a length in the Pendil Chase over two and a half miles at Kempton, back at a right-handed track, and he progressed from that to win the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival on 1st May, dropped back down to two miles but still at a right-handed track.

There was a general feeling that his Punchestown run was a one-off – why else would he have been allowed go off at 8/1 for Tuesday’s race, twice the price of Balder Succes, whom he had beaten by five lengths at Punchestown – as is often the case when a 25/1 shot wins a Grade 1 race. However, Tuesday’s run proved that it wasn’t. He is only six, he has raced just five times over fences, and he is a really exciting chaser for the season ahead. The fact that his Punchestown win was gained on 1st May means that he is still a novice for this season. He could go down the novice route, or he could go down the championship route, and it was interesting that Tom George said after Tuesday’s race that both the Tingle Creek Chase and the Henry VII Chase are options for him at Sandown on Tingle Creek day. Two and a quarter miles may be his optimum, but he has the pace for two and the stamina for two and a half. Also, it may be that he is at his best going right-handed, his best runs have been at right-handed tracks, although he has put up some nice performances at left-handed Doncaster. He will be of interest wherever he goes next, but he will be of greater interest at a right-handed track than at a left-handed track for now.

4th November 2014