Horses To Follow » American


American put up a really impressive performance to win the Hampton Novices’ Chase at Warwick last Saturday.

He didn’t have it all his own way up front, Chef D’Oeuvre held the early lead and the rail, and Noel Fehily had to sit up on the outside of Warren Greatrex’s horse. He was a little deliberate at one or two of his fences through the early stages of the race, but he warmed to his race really nicely. He moved into the lead on his own as they raced down the side of the track, away from the stands with a circuit to run, and from there, his jumping was just about flawless. He settled into a lovely even rhythm and, by the time he jumped the first of the five fences down the side of the track, he had all his rivals in trouble. He jumped the other four fences well, came clear around the home turn and kept on well over the last two fences. Champers On Ice did threaten a little as they landed over the last, but it looked like American picked up again when he sensed that the other horse was close. He probably won with a fair bit more in hand than the four-and-a-half-length winning margin.

American was probably helped by the fact that some of his rivals did not run up to their potential. Pobbles Bay was disappointing, Mystical Knight just couldn’t get into a rhythm and Champers On Ice’s jumping was not overly fluent. However, you can also argue that it was American’s aggressive tactics that put his rivals under pressure, and that they just weren’t able to cope with his easy galloping style and his fluent jumping. It was a thoroughly impressive performance against several talented and progressive rivals.

This is a race that has been won in the past by some high-class stayers, including Sego Success and Gungadu and Corrin Wood and last year by subsequent JLT Chase winner Black Hercules, and there is every reason to expect that American can progress again from this. This was just his sixth race under all codes and just his second chase. On his chasing debut he beat Label Des Obeaux and Vieux Lille and Missed Approach in a novices’ contest at Exeter in November. He jumped a little to his left that day, so going left on Saturday suited him well. That is good novice chasing form, but Saturday’s run was a step up on that.

Rider Noel Fehily said that he probably wouldn’t want the ground to be too fast, but even the easy side of good would be fine. He is reportedly fragile, but hopefully he can remain sound because he will be of interest wherever he goes next. Harry Fry spoke about the RSA Chase and the National Hunt Chase as possible Cheltenham targets this year. It is a pity that he is fragile, and that consequently he is not really ante post material, but he would be a player in either race and, longer term, as long as he remains sound, he could be a horse for a Hennessy or a Welsh National.

14th January 2017