Horses To Follow » Royal Regatta

Royal Regatta

There was a lot to like about the performance that Royal Regatta put up in winning the novices’ handicap chase run over an extended two miles at Newbury on Saturday.

It was always likely that this trip was going to be on the sharp side for Philip Hobbs’ horse on his chasing bow, a horse who exclusively over two and a half miles over hurdles last season. Sure enough, he raced in rear through the early stages of the race, and he appeared to be going just about as fast as he wanted to go. That said, his jumping was really good for a debutant, and that enabled him keep close tabs on the field.

Still last of the seven runners jumping the cross fence, the fifth last, he moved to the inside and started to make his ground on the far side early in the home straight. He jumped into third place at the second last, at which point it appeared as if Keltus was travelling well in front. But Royal Regatta jumped the last fence well, just a half-length behind the leader, and he stayed on really well up the run in to win by two lengths, with Keltus finishing six lengths in front of the third-placed Turn Over Sivola.

The winner and the second should both be worth following. The pair of them pulled nicely clear, and the winning time was really good, the second fastest time on Hennessy day, only marginally slower than the Hennessy itself, and 0.15secs/furling faster than Racing Post par. Royal Regatta should improve for this experience. He was a little careful at a couple of his fences, which was understandable for a chasing debutant, and he should do even better when he gets a little more fluent. Also, he should improve for a step up to two and a half miles at least.

Philip Hobbs said afterwards that he does need a galloping track. Also, his record suggests that he is at his best on a flat track, or at least away from Cheltenham. His record at Cheltenham reads 50P, while his record away from Cheltenham now reads 11131, with all those races run on flat tracks. The handicapper has raised him 9lb to a mark of 139, but that is just 6lb higher than his rating over hurdles, and he still has bags of scope for progression. He is only six and he had raced just six times under all codes before this, his chasing debut. He will be of interest wherever he goes next, but ideally it will be over two and a half miles and at a flat track.

29th November 2014