Horses To Follow » The Last Samuri

The Last Samuri

The Last Samuri put up a really tough and gutsy performance to land the three-mile handicap chase at Kempton on Saturday, staying on strongly to win well at a track that shouldn’t really have suited him.

And it didn’t suit him. Starting off just behind the front rank, he was being niggled along from a long way out. He is a galloper rather than a pacey type, and his jumping is safe and assured rather than slick and sharp. He was deliberate at one or two of his fences, with the result that David Bass had to ride him away on the landing side.

He was under pressure as they started the turn for home, but he was finding for pressure, closing on the leaders. It looked like Viva Steve and Opening Batsman had it between them as they levelled up for the third last fence, but The Last Samuri stays well and he latched onto the leading pair’s coat tails to give himself a chance. Switched to the far side, he made ground at the second last fence and, switched out between the two leaders on the run to the last, he closed on Viva Steve, flew the last fence, and stayed on well all the way to the line to get up and win by a length.

It was a fine performance from Kim Bailey’s horse. He was a progressive novice for Donald McCain at the end of last season, he won a good stayers’ handicap chase at Kelso in March, and he rounded off his season by running Puffin Billy to a neck at Ayr in April. Switched to Kim Bailey for the start of this season, he ran a cracker to finish a close-up third behind Wakanda and Virak in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle, and those two horses went on to finish first and second in the Silver Cup at Ascot.

There was every chance that The Last Samuri would step up on that run, his seasonal debut, his first run for Kim Bailey, and he duly did. Saturday’s run was probably a career-best, despite the fact that it was on a track that didn’t suit him. The handicapper will obviously raise him a few pounds for Saturday’s win, but the Flemensfirth gelding still has plenty of potential to progress further. Saturday’s run was just his seventh in a chase, and he has only just turned eight. Also, he should do even better with a stiffer test of stamina, a more galloping track or softer ground or a longer distance, or any combination thereof. Connections were talking about the Grand National for him, but that might be at least a year too early for him this year. The Irish National would be an interesting project for him this year.

27th December 2015