Horses To Follow » Three Musketeers

Three Musketeers

The task that Three Musketeers faced in the Grade 2 two-and-a-half-mile novices’ chase run at Newbury on Friday was rendered significantly easier than it might have been when Maximiser fell at the last fence on the far side and brought down Sametegal. However, such was the magnitude of Dan Skelton’s horse’s superiority over his remaining rivals in the end, and so impressive was the time that he clocked, it is difficult to argue that he would not have run out an impressive winner anyway.

The Flemensfirth gelding jumped and travelled well from flagfall at the rear of the seven-strong field. He travelled strongly, he was probably just a tiny bit keener than ideal, but his jumping was good and he moved up nicely through his field on the run down the back straight. Left in second place when Maximiser departed and took Sametegal with him, he travelled strongly out of the back straight behind Activial, and he was left in front when the favourite made a bad mistake at the cross fence, which was probably earlier than ideal.

He travelled well into the home straight in front, however, and he picked up well from the second last fence to come clear. The style of victory was impressive, as was the winning time, almost a second faster than the time that Little Jon clocked in winning the handicap chase a half an hour later – which was also an impressive time – and 0.16secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

This race has been won in the past by Denman, Punchestowns, Bobs Worth and Dynaste, and last year by Coneygree, and this year’s winner is a really exciting prospect now. He was a progressive novice hurdler last year, he beat an on-song Ballagh in the Grade 2 Leamington Hurdle at Warwick in January, the pair of them clear and, after skipping Cheltenham, he rounded off his season by finishing a good third behind Nichols Canyon in the Grade 1 Mersey Hurdle at Aintree.

Well fancied on his chasing bow at Huntingdon in early November, he travelled well for a long way before appearing to blow up, finishing third behind Sametegal and El Namoose and shaping like he needed the race. He proved that that was the case on Friday, it was a big step forward.

He has bundles of scope for progression now. He is only five and he has raced just five times under Rules and just twice over fences. He could step up in trip, he could be potentially an RSA Chase horse, but he has so much pace that this two and a half miles could be his optimum, at least for now, at least as a novice, and that appeared to be the way that his trainer was leaning after Friday’s race. There is a good programme of high-class two-and-a-half-mile races for novices, culminating in the JLT Chase at Cheltenham in March.

27th November 2015