Horses To Follow » Stilletto


Stilletto looked unlucky not to win the good two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Wincanton on Thursday.

Weak enough in the market beforehand, Paul Nicholls’ horse got into a nice even rhythm on the outside of the field for Sam Twiston-Davies. He slowed into his first few fences, and he gave away plenty of ground by going wide throughout and by jumping to his left on occasion, but he warmed to his task as the race progressed, and he moved into the race well. He moved up on the outside of leader As De Fer on the run out of the back straight, and he moved easily into the lead as they straightened up for home. He was the only horse who was still on the bridle on the run to the third last fence, but he got in too tight to the obstacle, clipped the top of it and came down.

Of course, it is impossible to know how Stilletto would have fared had he not come down. He travelled well on his previous run too, against Violet Dancer at Newbury, but he was in front a long way from home that day and he was worn down again by Gary Moore’s gutsy novice. Also, As De Fer is a horse who finds plenty for pressure and who was competing over a trip short of his best, while Unique De Cotter still appeared to have plenty more left to give at the time. That said, Stilletto travelled through his race like a classy individual.

This was just his sixth ever race and it was just his third chase, so he has lots of scope for progression. He wears a hood, he is a strong traveller, and there should be plenty of improvement forthcoming when he learns to settle better, which he should with experience. He was racing off a mark of 132 here, he should be left on that mark, and that is a mark off which there could be a good handicap chase in him.

He may have been in front early enough here too. It may be that he is seen to better effect in future if he is ridden even more patiently. And he may be better back on a left-handed track. He would be interesting if he was targetted at the Chaps Handicap Chase at Cheltenham. His rating of 132 should see him get into the race nicely, and the fast pace that they usually go in that race should suit him well.

4th February 2016