Horses To Follow » Ball D’Arc

Ball D’Arc

It is impossible to know how Ball D’Arc would have fared against Ballyoisin in the Grade 3 Flyingbolt Chase had that rival not come down at the third last fence. Both horses were still travelling well at the time, and both had a nice break on the only other horse in the race Tully East. Ball D’Arc had just moved up on the outside of Ballyoisin as they approached the third last fence, and he actually picked up marginally in front on the near side as Ballyoisin clipped the top of the fence on the far side and came down. Gordon Elliott’s horse was left nicely clear of Tully East consequently, and Bryan Cooper was easy on him over the final two fences, he just popped the two obstacles and eased his way up the run-in, just squeezed into the bridle to come home 19 lengths clear of his sole remaining rival. Significantly, despite the fact that he eased his way from the third last fence to the winning line, the Gigginstown House horse still recorded a good time, the fastest comparative time of the day by some way and 0.06secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par. It is probable that he could have gone significantly faster if he had been pushed.

The Network gelding continues to progress. Just below the top novice hurdlers last season – he won a Grade 2 contest at Naas in February last year – he has had plenty of racing this season as a novice chaser, but he continues to progress for it. He put up the best performance of his career on his previous run, when he won the competitive Dan Moore Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse off a mark of 133, coming clear of Pairofbrowneyes and Draycott Place on the run-in. Sunday’s performance was probably a step forward on that.

He deserves his place in graded novice chases, but he will also be of interest in big handicaps. His rating of 144 over fences is just 4lb higher than his rating over hurdles, and he would be of interest off that mark in a big two-mile handicap chase. He is only six and he still has the potential to go a fair way beyond his hurdles mark over fences. Gordon Elliott said on Thursday that he will not be going to Cheltenham, so the Grand Annual Chase is out, but the trainer did mention the Ryanair Chase at Fairyhouse as a potential target. He would be of interest in that, or in the Red Rum Chase at Aintree if they stay down the handicap route.

19th February 2017