Horses To Follow » Catching On

Catching On

Catching On did really well to get as close as he did in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr on Saturday. Kicked off at the back of the field he travelled and jumped well, Jonjo O’Neill’s horse was in a nice even rhythm even though he was at the back of the field until he made a really bad mistake at the third last fence on the second circuit. Dougie Costello did well to remain on board, but he was thrown up onto the horse’s neck and he lost his iron, he had just had it back by the time they jumped the next fence.

His jumping seemed to suffer after that. His jumping on the final circuit was not as fluent as it had been on the first circuit and a half. That obviously stunted his progress. He was still well back in the field when they started to turn out of the back straight, but his rider was still sitting fairly still. Costello allowed him coast around the home turn around the inside rail, among traffic, before asking him to pick up early in the home straight. Catching On stayed on all the way up the home straight and moved past Broadway Buffalo to take fifth place.

It was a fine performance from a young chaser, given that he kicked off right at the back of the field in a race in which it was difficult to make ground from the rear. These big staying handicap chases are usually all about rhythm, and Catching On was going along nicely, albeit well off the pace, until he made that mistake with just over a circuit to go. That mistake seemed to upset his rhythm, and his jumping lacked fluency afterwards. He did well to get back into the race after that.

He is only seven and this was just his sixth ever chase, so he has bags of scope for progression as a staying chaser now. He had fallen in two of his five chases before Saturday, including in the Midlands National last month when he was sent off the 5/2 favourite, but he had won two of his other three races, and he had proven his stamina when he stayed on strongly to land the Devon National over three and a half miles at Exeter on heavy ground in December. Even so, he coped with Saturday’s good ground well, which wasn’t surprising given that he had won a point-to-point and a hurdle race on good ground.

The handicapper dropped him 2lb to a mark of 137 for Saturday’s run, and that is decidedly lenient. He could be a Welsh National or an Irish National horse next season, and he could be an Aintree National horse at some point in the future. He will always be of interest in staying handicap chases when stamina is at a premium, and he should do even better as he gains further in experience.

18th April 2015