Horses To Follow » Bigbadjohn


Bigbadjohn did remarkably well to win the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot on Saturday.

Desperately weak in the market beforehand, he missed the break and he jumped into the back of Fletcher’s Flyer at the first fence. He was none the worse for that incident, but he continued to concede ground by jumping to his left until Jonathan Moore managed to get Laurium up on his outside before they got into the home straight first time.

He was good at his fences after that, but he did jump up into the backs of leaders Flintham and Fletcher’s Flyer on occasion. Good at his fences down the side of the track as his rivals made a couple of mistakes, he was only third as they rounded the home turn and, while he was starting to stay on, he got in tight to the second last fence, and that seemed to end any hope he had of winning the race. He stayed on well from that point, however, jumped the final fence well and stayed on really strongly to just get up and nut Flintham on the line.

This was a really gutsy performance from Rebecca Curtis’ horse. He did well to win, given how weak he was in the market, and given how things did not go fluently for him through the early stages of the race. This was his first run since he slipped up in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster when he wasn’t travelling well, after which he was diagnosed with a fibrillating heart. But his two runs over fences prior to that were very good. On the first of them, at Newbury in early November, he beat Our Kaempfer, who went on post a really impressive performance in winning at Kempton last month. On the second, Bigbadjohn finished second to Thistlecrack in a Grade 2 novices’ chase back at Newbury at their Hennessy meeting.

He should be able to go on from this, he is lightly-raced and he has lots of scope for progression as a staying chaser. He should improve for this, his first run back after a short break, and he should do better on a left-handed track. There is a suspicion that he does appreciate small fields, he may have found the big field of the Sky Bet Chase all a little bit too much. That said, he should be able to cope with bigger fields as he gains in experience, and he will be of interest in the National Hunt Chase if he takes his chance in that contest or, if he doesn’t, wherever he goes next, and interest will be enhanced if he is back on a left-handed track. This was just his fifth chase, so he still has lots of scope for progression.

18th February 2017