Horses To Follow » Oscar Rock

Oscar Rock

Oscar Rock ran out an impressive winner of the feature race at Market Rasen on Saturday, the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase.

Always travelling well for Brian Hughes, he moved up threateningly around the home turn, and he moved easily in behind leader Claret Cloak on the run to the third last fence. He joined the leader at the second last, moved easily into a slender lead on the run to the last, and found plenty on the run-in to come clear and win by over three lengths, with another five back to the third horse Cloud Creeper.

This was a really nice performance from Malcolm Jefferson’s horse, it was another step up the ladder and it was a continuation of his progression. He has always been highly regarded, he won two bumpers for Harry Fry in 2012/13 but, while he ran out a 20-length winner on his debut over hurdles for his current trainer, he didn’t win over the smaller obstacles thereafter.

Switched to chasing last season, he has now found his role. He won well at Newcastle in February off a mark of 132, then followed up at Kelso off a mark of 138, and he probably would have won the Grade 2 Future Champion Novices’ Chase at Ayr’s Scottish Grand National meeting had he not fallen at the third last fence. Saturday’s run was his first run since and, as well as proving that he was none the worse for that mishap, it also suggested that he could continue his progression from last season.

The handicapper raised him 8lb for Saturday’s win, which brings him up to a mark of 155, but he is a classy individual who could be well up to that mark. Saturday’s run was just his fifth run over fences, so he still has lots of scope to progress further. Two and a half miles is his trip for now, he is from the family of that quintessential two-and-a-half-miler Native Upmanship, but his dam won over three miles over further, so he could improve for a step up in trip. He does go well on this goodish ground, but he was thought to be a soft ground horse earlier in his career. There was talk after Saturday’s race of going for the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham in November. All his best form is on flat tracks, but he is a progressive horse now and, if he did take his chance in the Paddy Power, he would be of interest.

26th September 2015