Horses To Follow » Arthur’s Oak

Arthur’s Oak

Arthur’s Oak did really well to finish second in the two-mile handicap chase at Sandown on Saturday.

Sent into an immediate share of the lead with confirmed front-runner Pearls Legend through the early stages of the race, the son of Kayf Tara moved into a slender lead on the run down the hill away from the stands, and he led down the back straight. He travelled easily in front for Aidan Coleman, and he jumped the line of seven fences down Sandown’s back straight really well. Three lengths clear as they left the back straight and travelling well, he came under pressure on the run to the second last fence and Bold Henry moved up into his slipstream, and a mistake at the second last fence handed the initiative to JP McManus’ horse. It is understandable that he got tired from there, but he still kept on all the way to the line to go down by just two lengths, with 13 lengths back to the third horse.

It was difficult to make ground from the rear on the soft ground at Sandown all day, but they went really fast up front here, and that set it up for Bold Henry, who is at his best off a fast pace over two miles on soft ground, all of which he had here. Arthur’s Legend led Pearls Legend and Just Cameron, two confirmed front-runners, he probably went fast enough, but he still finished 13 lengths clear of the rest of the field, and he would have been closer to Bold Henry had he not made that fairly shuddering mistake at the second last fence. And the winning time was good, the fastest chase run on the day by some way and just 0.04secs/furlong slower than Racing Post par.

This was another step forward from Venetia Williams’ horse, and he can be marked up a fair bit on the bare form of it. He is a really progressive type. He got off the mark over fences at Huntingdon in April on goodish ground, when he beat another progressive horse in Viva Steve, but he seemed to improve for the move back to heavy ground when he won at Haydock in December on his debut this term, and he handled the testing conditions really well on Saturday. The handicapper raised him 15lb for his Haydock win, but he coped well with that hike on Saturday, and another 5lb for that run should be more than manageable. He has raced just 11 times in his life and just six times over fences, so he still has scope to progress further. He is probably at his best over two miles on soft ground when he can get into a nice rhythm out in front and use his fluent jumping to maximum effect.

2nd January 2016