Horses To Follow » Gardefort


Gardefort put up a really impressive performance to land the two-mile handicap chase at Wetherby on Saturday. It was only a six-horse race, but it looked like a tight enough handicap beforehand, before Gardefort turned it into a bit of a rout.

Venetia Williams’ horse always travelled well for Aidan Coleman in rear. His jumping was good, and the fact that Mwaleshi, who stays further than this two miles, set out to make a fast pace was a help to him. He travelled really well into the home straight, hunted up the new leader Sir Valentino down to the last, joined Tom George’s horse there and picked up nicely on the run-in to post an impressive victory in a good time, by far the fastest time of the day and 0.12secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

This was much more like it from the son of Agent Bleu, who was pulled up in Grey Gold’s race at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting last November on his only previous run this season. A dual winner over fences in his native France, he made his debut for Venetia Williams in February 2014 and, after three fairly inauspicious performances that spring, he was impressive in winning over two miles at Ludlow on his seasonal debut last term. He was actually sent off as favourite for Saturday’s race last year on the back of that performance when he raced off a mark of 135, but he just had no answer when Bold Henry and Firth Of Clyde went on at the final fence on the good to soft ground. He seemed to be much happier on the heavy ground on Saturday, but he did post that impressive Ludlow performance on good to soft ground.

The handicapper raised him by 9lb to a mark of 141, but that is fair. He could have got 10lb or 12lb. This was just his second run in 12 months, he suffered a cut when he was pulled up in that Newbury race on Hennessy weekend, and that was his first run in 10 months. He is obviously fragile, but he is lightly raced, this was just his seventh run in Britain, his seventh run since his last run in France in November 2013. He will always be of particular interest over two miles on soft ground when it looks like there will be a fast pace on, and a mark of 141 could still under-estimate him quite considerably.

16th January 2016