Horses To Follow » HTF

Pic D’Orhy

You can understand why all the talk after the two-mile-three-furlong novices’ chase centred on the winner Chantry House. Nicky Henderson’s horse was a high-profile chasing debutant, third in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March and, sent off at 4/9 on Friday, he ran out an easy winner in the end from his sole remaining rival Up The Straight. Pic D’Orhy departed at the third last fence, but it may pay to retain faith in Paul Nicholls’ horse.

There are risks, of course. He has now fallen in two of his three chases, and he was beaten by Le Patriote at Market Rasen in October in the other. Yet he travelled and jumped really well through his race on Friday. He was fluent over his obstacles, and it looked like he had Chantry House in trouble as they raced to the third last fence. Pic D’Orhy just met the fence wrong, he got in tight to it, clipped the top of it and came down. It was a real novicey fall.

He remains a talented individual though, and he is still really interesting as a novice chaser. He won the Betfair Hurdle last February off a mark of 146 and, from a chasing family, he retains the potential to do well over fences. This intermediate trip looks like a good trip for him, the extended two miles at Market Rasen on good ground in October was probably too sharp, and he will be of interest wherever he goes now. Only 10th in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2019, it may be that he will be at his best on flatish tracks. The Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown in February would be an interesting medium range target if connections continue down the chasing route, with perhaps a confidence-booster in the interim.

Ascot, 20th November 2020

Nelson River

Nelson River ran well at a big price in the two-mile handicap hurdle that Buzz won on Saturday, better than the bare form of the run suggests. He raced in mid-division from early, but he got a little out-paced when they quickened over the fourth last flight, and he dropped to second last at the third last flight. But he stayed on really well from the home turn and over the last two flights to get up and take fourth place, only just failing to catch Ecco for third.

They went a fair pace here, Rosie And Millie went fast from early, so it was a good test at the trip, but Tony Carroll’s horse could do better still when there is an even greater emphasis on stamina. He does go well on good ground, and he could do better now over a longer trip, ideally on better ground. He won his two hurdle races as a juvenile two seasons ago on good and good to soft ground, and he ran well in the 2019 Triumph Hurdle to finish fourth behind Pentland Hills. He is only five, there could be more to come from him, and the fact that the handicapper dropped him by 2lb to a mark of 136 is a bonus.

Ascot, 20th November 2020

Printing Dollars

Printing Dollars ran better than the bare form of her run suggests in the mares’ handicap hurdle. She travelled really well through her race for Sam Waley-Cohen. Her jumping was good, and she moved well behind the leader Minellareflection over the third last flight and as they raced to the home turn. She came under pressure quickly though after they straightened up for home, and she weakened from there. She got very tired from the second last flight, and her rider just kept her going to take sixth place, well behind the winner Robin Gold.

This was Warren Greatrex’s mare’s seasonal debut, it was her first run since she was pulled up in a handicap hurdle at Doncaster in February, so there is every chance that she will come on for it. She had had a wind operation in the interim too, and she was racing here on ground that was probably softer than ideal over the three-mile trip. Her best runs to date have been on good or good to soft ground, no softer, over three miles or two miles and five furlongs, and she will be of interest when she can get back on better ground now. The handicapper dropped her by another 3lb to a mark of 118, a mark that is 17lb lower than the mark on which she started off last season, and she will be of interest now off that type of mark when she can get back on better ground.

Ascot, 21st November 2020

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

Fire Attack

Fire Attack put up a really good performance to finish second in the Grade 3 Monksfield Hurdle. Settled back in the field from flagfall by Mark Walsh, he was keen enough in behind runners early on. Sixth of the seven runners as they passed the stands with a circuit to go, his rider allowed him move up on the outside of his field in the back straight, and he moved to the front as they jumped the fifth last flight. He led across the top of the track and into the home straight, and he saw off Lieutenant Command and Farouk D’Alene over the second last flight. He travelled well in front to the final obstacle, and he jumped it well, but he was just collared inside the final 50 yards by Fakiera.

It was still a really good run by Joseph O’Brien’s horse. Winner of a bumper at Limerick on his racecourse debut last December, when he beat a good horse in Julies Stowaway, the Gigginstown House horse was just beaten by Farouk D’Alene in a bumper at Navan in February on his only other run last season. It was significant that connections were happy to allow him take his chance in a Grade 3 contest on his hurdling debut, against Farouk D’Alene again, instead of in a maiden, and he proved that he belonged in graded company all right. His jumping was good and he travelled like a good horse through his race before his early exertions and lack of a recent run probably took their toll. He was entered too in the Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse on Sunday, he is obviously held in high regard, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

Navan, 22nd November 2020