Horses To Follow » Southfield Theatre

Southfield Theatre

Southfield Theatre put up a nice performance to win the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novice Chase over two and a half miles at Wincanton on Saturday. It was only a three-horse race, and his main market rival, Horizontal Speed, made several errors, thereby making Southfield Theatre’s task a little easier than it might have been, but he still put up a nice performance to come clear of the other runner Hollow Penny and win nicely.

Paul Nicholls horse set off in front and, although he was challenged and harried by Horizontal Speed over the first four fences, he remained unperturbed and his jumping was sound. There was a moment’s concern when they ran around the bend past the winning post before they set out on their second circuit, he seemed to shy a little and had to be ridden into the water jump by Sam Twiston-Davies, but after that he settled back into a nice rhythm again. Hollow Penny kept him company until they rounded the home turn, but Southfield Theatre started to draw clear on the run to the third last fence as his stamina kicked in, and he came right away over the final two fences to win as easily as he liked.

This two-and-a-half-mile trip should be a minimum for the King’s Theatre gelding. He was a high class staying handicap hurdler last season, he was unlucky not to win the big three-mile handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting last season, and he was beaten just a nose by Fingal Bay in the Pertemps Final at the Festival.

The fact that he has such good form at Cheltenham, and at the Festival in particular, augurs well for this season.

He was impressive in winning at Chepstow on his chasing bow, and this was probably another step forward on that. He is only six, he should continue to improve as he gains in experience, and he should progress again for stepping up to three miles. The previous four winners of this race were Wishfull Thinking, Silviniaco Conti, Houblons Des Obeaux and last year Wonderful Charm, two of those trained by Nicholls, and there is every reason to expect that Southfield Theatre can, like those four, progress to be a high-class staying chaser. He was rated 150 over hurdles, and he could progress to be an even better chaser.

8th November 2014