Horses To Follow » Saphir Du Rheu

Saphir Du Rheu

Saphir Du Rheu was very good in the Colin Parker Chase at Carlisle on Sunday. His main rival The Young Master did not help himself by jumping to his left a little, which is no good at right-handed Carlisle, but Paul Nicholls’ horse travelled like the winner from a long way out, and he duly came clear on the run-in.

The Al Namix gelding was rated 13lb higher than his main rival, and he was only conceding 4lb to him, so it was reasonable to expect that he would land the odds, but he was really impressive in so doing. He shaped like a high-class staying chaser in-waiting.

His chasing career had a little bit of a false start last season when he failed to complete on two of his first three attempts. Despite the fact that he was impressive in winning his beginners’ chase on the other attempt, the decision was made to revert to hurdles temporarily. He duly won the Cleeve Hurdle and ran a cracker to finish second to Cole Harden in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham. Then, returned to fences at Aintree, he was seriously impressive in winning the Mildmay Chase. He jumped superbly that day, and he easily beat some useful novices. That performances suggested that he could progress to take his place among the leading staying chasers this season, and his debut at Carlisle on Sunday did nothing to dispel those notions.

It is a seriously hot division this season, with Vautour and Don Cossack and Don Poli and Coneygree and Djakadam and Road To Riches at the top of it, but there is every reason to expect that Saphir Du Rheu can easily take his place up there with the very best of them. He stays well, he jumps his fences well now, he can handle Cheltenham and he goes well on good and easy ground. He is only six and Sunday’s race was just his fifth over fences. He still has lots of unfulfilled potential. He is in the Hennessy, but he is also in the King George and the Gold Cup, and it may be that his future lies in graded conditions chases as opposed to handicaps.

1st November 2015