Horses To Follow » Real Steel

Real Steel

Real Steel only finished third of the three finishers in the Grade 2 Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase, but his performance was much more encouraging than that. Weak in the market beforehand on this, his seasonal debut and his first run for Paul Nicholls, he settled into his racing rhythm quite quickly for Harry Cobden, on the inside behind early leader Black Corton. Moved towards the outside as they raced down the side of the track, it appeared as if he was going at least as well as, and possibly slightly better than, new leader Imperial Aura when he moved up to join that rival over the sixth last and fifth last fences after Black Corton’s departure. He was niggled along on the run to the third last, however, and he met that fence wrong, he got in tight and forfeited ground and momentum. He did rally at the top of the home straight on the run to the second last fence, but he tired on the run to the last as Imperial Aura powered impressively to victory, and he ultimately ceded second place to Itchy Feet on the run-in.

It was still an encouraging performance by Real Steel, who may be under-rated now on the back of this defeat. He was a classy horse when he was with Willie Mullins, he won the same novices’ handicap chase at the 2019 Punchestown Festival that his stable companion Kemboy had won a year earlier, and he won the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae Chase last year, beating his stable companion Footpad by 14 lengths. As well as that, he ran a massive race in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March, he made good ground from the rear on the run down the hill and he travelled better than most of his rivals into the home straight, before his stamina appeared to ebb. There was King George talk last year, but that appeared to be ended by defeat in the John Durkan Chase, when he didn’t have the run of the race, yet he was only beaten by four lengths by his 171-rated stable companion Min. Probably at his best going right-handed, he should come on for this run, and he could yet be an interesting outsider in the King George this year.

Ascot, 21st November 2020