Things We Learned » Indo on track

Indo on track

The highlight of Henry de Bromhead’s week was obviously Chris’s Dream’s win in the Ladbrokes Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday, but he had to have been happy with his maiden hurdle double on Tuesday at Punchestown with Aspire Tower and Cavalry Master, and he had to have been delighted with Minella Indo’s run to finish second to Laurina in the beginners’ chase at Gowran Park on Saturday. 

Minella Indo was beaten, but he was racing over a trip, two and a half miles, that was probably short of his best, and he was beaten by a high-class mare in Laurina, who was competing over a trip that was close to her optimum.

One of the most impressive elements of Barry Maloney’s horse’s performance was his jumping, very efficient for a chasing debutant, and he matched Laurina until she just appeared to out-pace him at the third last fence.  He kept on well though to finish a clear second.

It was a really good start back for Minella Indo, his chasing debut and his first run since May.  Winner of the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March, and of the Grade 1 Irish Daily Mirror Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, he could step up in grade now, even though he is still a maiden over fences.  He should improve too as he steps up in trip.

Harry’s choice

Harry Cobden has a King George decision to make, that’s for sure.  It may not be as straightforward as the market suggests.

Cyrname may be the 5/2 favourite, and he may have just beaten Altior.  He may now bask in a rating of 177, the equal of Kemboy, the joint highest-rated steeplechaser in training.  But he has never been beyond two miles and five furlongs, and he still has to prove that he can be as good at Kempton as he is at Ascot.

You can argue that Kempton is not dissimilar to Ascot, in that it is right-handed and relatively flat and triangular.  But Ascot is stiffer: the track and the fences.  Also, when a horse shows a marked improvement in form at a track, any track, you don’t know for sure if he will be able to mirror that improvement somewhere else.

Cyrname’s last three runs have been at Ascot, and those three runs have been the best three runs of his life by some way.  In those three runs, he has risen from a mark of 150 to a mark of 177.  That’s an improvement of 27lb, and that’s massive, especially at the top end of the handicap scale.

He is two for two at Kempton, we don’t know that he won’t be as good there as he is at Ascot, but we don’t know for sure that he will.  And he has to prove his stamina. 

Clan Des Obeaux is rated 169, he has 8lb to find with his stable companion on official ratings, and is a 5/1 shot.  He is twice his price.  Also, he was beaten on his seasonal return. 

But he is often beaten on his seasonal return, he usually improves significantly for it.  His record on his seasonal debut under Rules reads 14242.  His record on his second run of the season reads 2111.  Last year, he finished fourth in the Betfair Chase on his first run of the season, and he won the King George on his second.

You can be sure that Paul Nicholls has been training him to peak on King George day and, with that in mind, he ran a big race to chase home Road To Respect at Down Royal four weeks ago. 

By contrast, it may be that Cyrname had most of his screws tightened for his date with Altior last week. 

Clan Des Obeaux put up the best performance of his life in the King George last year.  It wasn’t a vintage renewal, but he won it easily.  You know that he can excel over the course and distance and at this time of year. 

And, unlike the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the King George is a race that spawns repeat winners.  Silviniaco Conti, Long Run, Kauto Star, Kicking King, See More Business, One Man, The Fellow, Desert Orchid, they all won more than one King George.  Go back to Wayward Lad and Silver Buck and Captain Christy and Pendil if you want.  That’s 12 repeat King George winners since 1972.  In that time, only Best Mate and Kauto Star have won more than one Cheltenham Gold Cup 

This one could go either way. 

Ten to follow

It’s late now, Ten To Follow entries have to be in before mid-day today, and you need a UK address in order to enter.  That makes it difficult, as does the fact that they have included four big handicap chases this year.  But don’t be sucked in by them.  The only handicap chase you should consider is today’s Ladbrokes Trophy, because it’s today.  Fair play if you can even pick a runner in the Bet365 Gold Cup at this stage.

And don’t get sucked in by the novice hurdlers either.  You may want Envoi Allen or Andy Dufresne or Abacadabras on your side, but there are no bonus races for novice hurdlers, and this competition is all about the bonus races.  So here are 10 suggestions: Dingo Dollar (Ladbrokes Trophy), Clan Des Obeaux (King George), Klassical Dream (Irish Champion Hurdle), Notebook (Arkle), Saldier (Champion Hurdle), Cilaos Emery (Champion Chase), Minella Indo (RSA Chase), Paisley Park (Stayers’ Hurdle), A Plus Tard (Ryanair Chase), Delta Work (Gold Cup).  

Walsh winner

Eoin Walsh was very good on Dinard Rose in the opening race at Gowran Park on Saturday.   He didn’t panic when Very Excellent skipped away from him at the second last flight.  He had his whip in his right hand on the Noel Meade-trained filly on the run to the final flight and, when she started to go a little to her left, he switched his whip seamlessly into his left hand, and she stayed on well for him from there to get home.

Nina Carberry’s filly was unlucky on her previous run at Galway, when she was badly hampered at the second last flight.  She reversed form with Very Excellent from that race, a race from which the winner Sacchoandvanzetti has since come out and won again.

It was an eighth win for Walsh, who is big value for his 7lb claim, and who is getting lots of good opportunities from Noel Meade.  Note, though, that even he couldn’t ride Dinard Rose in the 11.50 at Gowran Park on Saturday, then get to Huntingdon to ride 100/1 shot Aleatoric in the 11.55 there.

Quote of the week

“She (Laurina) is one for the Mares’ Chase at Cheltenham in 2021.”

Willie Mullins

© The Irish Field, 30th November 2019