Horses To Follow » Roc D’Apsis

Roc D’Apsis

Roc D’Apsis appeared to win the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Kempton on Monday with a fair bit more in hand than the two-length winning margin. Weak in the market beforehand in his first-time cheekpieces, Tom George’s horse was settled nicely just behind the pace through the early stages of the race by Paddy Brennan. He travelled well through his race, and his jumping was sound. He travelled well down the side of the course, and moved up on the outside into second place on the run to the final fence on that part of the track, but he got in tight to the obstacle and consequently found himself in fourth place and three wide as they started around the home turn. That said, he quickly recovered that ground and moved up into second place behind Galway Jack as they straightened up with three fences to jump.

From there, he travelled like the most likely winner. Just a half a length down jumping the third last, he switched to the far side on the run to the second last, then moved into a clear lead on the run between the final two fences. He appeared to idle on the run to the last, he allowed Galway Jack back at him, but he pulled out more on landing before slowing up again at the line to win by two lengths.

There was a sense afterwards that this race fell apart a little. Favourite Stella Notion didn’t jump well and was struggling from a long way out, while Opening Batsman was never travelling, and the well-backed Ericht made a bad mistake early on and was always struggling. However, it might be a mistake to under-rate the value of this form. Galway Jack is a potentially well-handicapped horse despite his advancing years, he ran most encouragingly on his seasonal debut at Kempton two weeks previously, and he had it all to himself up front, while the talented Barrakilla, who finished second, also had the run of the race, along the inside throughout and just behind the leader. And Roc D’Apsis beat the pair of them well, probably with more in hand than the winning margin.

Tom George’s horse started off this season most encouragingly but putting up what was probably the best performance of his life to win a handicap chase over two and a half miles on soft ground at Stratford in October off a mark of 122. Stepped up in grade for his next run in a good handicap chase at Newbury on Hennessy weekend, and racing off a mark of 132, he disappointed, he made a bad mistake at the fifth last fence and was never a factor thereafter.

The handicapper didn’t give him much respite, he only dropped him by 1lb, but the cheekpieces may have had an effect on Monday. He travelled through his race well, his jumping was good, and he showed a nice turn of foot from the second last fence. The handicapper will give him a couple of pounds for this, but he shouldn’t be too harsh. The Apsis gelding is only seven and he has the potential to continue to progress as a chaser. This intermediate trip suits him well and, while he has good form on good ground, his best two runs have been on soft. Flat tracks seem to suit him well, and he has run two of his best races now on his two runs at Kempton.

25th January 2016