Horses To Follow » Soll


Soll put up another good performance to win the Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday, a performance that confirms him as one of the leading players in this year’s Grand National.

David Pipe’s horse travelled really well for Conor O’Farrell through the early stages of the race. If anything, he travelled a little too well, he was keen and fresh and wanting to get on with things. His rider allowed him move up to join the leader Relax at the cross fence, where he made his only real mistake, and he went into a clear lead at the second last fence. It was to Relax’s credit that he was able to stick with Soll for as long as he did, and he only went down by three parts of a length in the end, but Soll looked the most likely winner from a long way out, and you never really thought that Relax was going to catch him.

This was a really good performance from Soll. He travelled like a good horse through the race, and he picked up well at the second last fence to go away from Relax. The pair of them pulled 11 lengths clear of the progressive Fourovakind, and they clocked a really good time, the fastest comparative time on the day and fully 0.11secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par. It was a really good performance, probably significantly better than has generally been appreciated.

The handicapper raised Soll by 7lb for this performance but, because the Grand National is an early-closing race, he will get to race off his old mark of 139. He will not even have to carry a winner’s penalty. That means that he will be 7lb well-in in the National and that he will be one of the best-handicapped horses in the race, probably second only to Rocky Creek, who will be 9lb well-in.

The Presenting gelding ran really well in the National as an eight-year-old two years ago for Jo Hughes, but he will be much better-equipped for the National now as a 10-year-old. It is an older horse’s race these days. Also, he looks like an improved horse now since joining David Pipe, and he travelled much better through his race on Saturday in his first-time blinkers than he had in cheekpieces at Exeter last month on his debut for Pipe. He is a big, long-striding horse who looks built for the National, he stays well, he is the right age for the race now, he goes well on all types of ground and he should have a nice racing weight in the National, he should be in the low to mid-10sts. He is entered in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter next Saturday, but surely he will not run in that if they are serious about trying to win the Grand National. He has a lot in his favour in the context of the Aintree race, and the 25/1 that is generally available about him is more than fair.

28th February 2015