Horses To Follow » Champagne West

Champagne West

Champagne West did really well to finish second to his stable companion Village Vic in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Racing for the first time since January, and passed over by Richard Johnson in favour of the winner, Philip Hobbs’ horse was quickly into a nice rhythm on the inside behind the winner. However, he made a really bad mistake at the last fence on the first circuit, he hit the fence really hard, it had to have knocked the wind out of him, and that had to have cost him vital energy. Even so, he tracked his stable companion down the hill, and he looked a danger as they turned in to face the final two fences. He just couldn’t get to him, but he still kept on well enough to retain second place.

There was no disgrace in finishing second to Village Vic, a progressive chaser who had obviously been primed for Saturday’s race, and who was obviously in top form going into it, given that the stable jockey chose to ride him. Champagne West was the only horse who was able to challenge the winner, and there is no knowing how much that mistake took out of him. He should progress from this too, his first run in 10 and a half months, and he should do even better on slightly better ground.

The handicapper has raised him 2lb to a mark of 152, and that is more than fair. He raised the winner by 8lb, so it could have been worse. Also, he is just seven, and this was just his fifth chase, so he is nicely primed to progress now.

Two and a half miles is his trip for now, all his good form is over that distance, although he seemed to stay three miles all right in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2014. Also, there is lots of stamina in his pedigree, his dam is a half-sister to Ballyhale, a winner over three miles, so it is possible that he could improve for a step up in trip. He goes go really well at Cheltenham, his record there now over fences reads 1122, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next. He will be of interest stepped up in trip in a good handicap, and he could progress enough now to be a Ryanair Chase horse.

12th December 2015