Horses To Follow » Zabana


Zabana was very good in winning the Grade 1 Growise Chase at Punchestown on Tuesday. In the front rank from flagfall, the Andy Lynch-trained gelding stumbled a little on landing over the first fence, he could have dislodged his rider Davy Russell, but Russell sat tight, got him back into his rhythm and moved him up easily along the inside to take up the running, which was obviously the tactic that he wanted to adopt in the first place.

It wasn’t a smooth run from there either. He was harried by Ballychorus in front and then, after she had unseated her rider at the ninth fence, she ran across him while running loose on the run to the fourth last fence. Unperturbed, Zabana jumped the fourth last fence well, travelled well into the home straight and stayed on really well over the last two fences to win nicely, beating Outlander by two lengths. The pair of them clear.

This may not have been the strongest renewal of the Growise Chase ever, but Outlander is high-class, he is a Grade 1 winner over fences and a Grade 2 winner over hurdles, and the race was run in a good time, just 0.03secs/furlong slower than Racing Post par.

This race has been a good pointer to the future in the past, it has been won by Carlingford Lough and Valseur Lido and Sir Des Champs, and Don Cossack was beaten in it. There is no telling how high Zabana can go now. Chris Jones’ horse is only seven and this was just effectively his third run over fences. He loves good ground, and he put up the best performance of his life over hurdles in the Coral Cup at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival, when he went down by just a neck to Aux Ptits Soins. It is early days to be talking about the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but that is a legitimate route for him now and initial tentative quotes of 33/1 are not outlandish.

26th April 2016