Horses To Follow » Three Kingdoms

Three Kingdoms

Three Kingdoms put up a really likeable performance to get the better of the highly-talented Solar Impulse in the Grade 2 Lightning Novices’ Chase at Doncaster on Saturday.

The market told you that this four-horse race was really all about the top two, and so it transpired. Solar Impulse got into a lovely rhythm out in front, and going up over Rose Hill it looked like he was travelling better than Three Kingdoms. Then at the top of the home straight, the John Ferguson horse came back on the bridle for AP McCoy, and appeared to have the upper hand. But he made a fairly significant mistake at the third last fence. He didn’t appear to lose that much ground, but he lost impetus, he fired his rider up onto his neck, and the champ did really well to keep the partnership intact. Probably as a result of that, he was not great at either of the last two fences. He was high and deliberate and stuttery, with the result that he conceded ground to the leader at each obstacle. Still about two and a half lengths down as they started off up the run-in, he responded really willingly for his rider’s urgings, joined Solar Impulse with 25 yards to run and surged forward to win by a neck in a thriller.

Both of these horses are fine prospects. Solar Impulse has been unlucky to come up against Monetaire and Josses Hill in two of his three race since he beat Turn Over Sivola at Wetherby in November, and to be caught out by the tricky fourth last fence at Cheltenham in the other. But he remains a highly promising horse, and he set a fair standard here for Three Kingdoms. The fact that the Street Cry gelding was able to beat him, giving him 3lb, and after that mis-hap at the third last fence, is highly commendable. Also, the time of the race was good, 0.13secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

Rated 82 on the flat, and rated 140 over hurdles by the time that he contested the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March, Three Kingdoms has raced four times over fences now, he has won three times and he went down by just a half-length to Arkle contender Vibrato Valtat in the Wayward Lad Chase at Kempton in the other, when he shaped as if a step up from that two-mile trip could bring about improvement. That was the impression that he left from Saturday’s race as well, and it is a view that is reportedly shared by both AP McCoy and Brian Hughes.

He is a lively outsider now for the JLT Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. However, while he finished third behind Quick Jack in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in November 2013, he has been well beaten in both of his efforts at the Festival itself, and it may be that a flat track suits him best. The Manifesto Chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting looks like an ideal race for him now.

24th January 2015