Horses To Follow » Calipto


Calipto ran better than his finishing position in sixth place suggests in the Grand Annual. Venetia Williams’ horse made fairly significant mistakes at both the first and third fences with the result that, when they swung up the hill away from the stands with a circuit to run, he was 22nd of the 24 runners. Admittedly he had the ultimate winner Rock The World just in front of him, but more importantly, he appeared to be struggling to get into a rhythm, and the second and third, Gardefort and Theinval were both handy from flagfall, so the hold-up horses had no obvious advantage in the race.

Pushed along a little after jumping the first fence in the back straight, he was again in tight to the fence after the water and at the fifth last so, by the time they turned at the top of the hill, he was still fourth last, with the three horses behind him detached and struggling.

It didn’t look good for Calipto either, but he started to make progress from there. He jumped the fourth last fence well and travelled well down the hill. He got in tight again to the third last, which didn’t help, but he went forward among traffic as they rounded the home turn. Moved toward the near side by Jamie Bargary as they straightened up, he was no better than 15th as they approached the second last fence, but he stayed on well from there to take sixth place, just seven lengths behind the winner, and he would have been fifth in another three strides.

It was a really promising run from Venetia Williams’ horse. He was always highly-regarded by his former trainer Paul Nicholls. He finished fourth in Tiger Roll’s Triumph Hurdle when his rider’s stirrup broke, and he finished a close-up third behind Garde La Victoire and Fox Norton in the Grade 2 Arkle Trial in November last season. Bought for £24,000 by Venetia Williams at Goffs UK at Doncaster last August, he was racing for the first time for his new connections in the Grand Annual. It was his first run since he was well beaten in a novices’ handicap chase at Sandown last April, so it was a big effort.

The handicapper dropped him 1lb to a mark of 138, which was more than fair. It leaves him now 11lb lower than his peak rating as a juvenile hurdler, and that gives him lots of leeway. He is only seven and this was just his fifth run over fences, so he has plenty of scope for further progression. He appears to be versatile in terms of ground conditions, but he shaped on Friday as if a step up to two and a half miles could bring about further improvement. He will be of interest wherever he goes next.

17th March 2017