Horses To Follow » Musical Slave

Musical Slave

Musical Slave did well to finish third in the three-mile listed handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday, coming from the rear in a race in which the prominent racers did well. The winner Captain Chaos led or disputed the lead from flagfall, while Cobolobo, who also led or disputed from early, finished fifth, and the fourth horse, the 40/1 shot Sub Lieutenant, raced in third place from early. By contrast, Musical Slave raced in rear. Spurned by Richard Johnson in favour of Jerrysback, and weak in the pre-race market, the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding wasn’t great at either of the first two fences, with the result that he was stone last of the 10 runners at the third fence. He settled into a rhythm after that, and his jumping was fine, without being overly slick. He got in tight to a few of his fence, including the two fences in the home straight first time as well as the first fence on their final circuit which, while not disastrous, weren’t overly helpful as momentum generators. He was last of the remaining eight runners as they raced up the side of the track final time, as the two leaders Captain Chaos and Cobolobo kicked on and had a 10-length break on the rest of the field as they raced to the home turn. Cobolobo weakened from there, but Captain Chaos kept up his relentless gallop. Musical Slave moved into third place around the home turn and, while he ceded second place to his fast-finishing owner-companion Regal Encore at the second last fence, he kept on well enough to finish a clear third.

Winner of three of his six hurdle races, including the Adare Manor Opportunity Series Final at the 2019 Punchestown Festival, JP McManus’ horse was a progressive novice chaser last season, his season culminating in a fine run to finish second to this year’s Tommy Whittle Chase winner Sam’s Adventure in a novices’ handicap chase at Uttoxeter’s Midlands National meeting in March, on his first attempt at three miles. He shaped encouragingly in a two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase on his seasonal return at Newbury’s Ladbrokes Trophy meeting in November, despite not jumping very well, and this was his first run back since he unseated his rider in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster last month. There could still be a good handicap chase in him off this type of mark in the mid to high 130s, especially if he can become more fluent over his fences. The handicapper dropped him by 2lb to a mark of 135 for Saturday’s defeat, which was a nice bonus. He remains unexposed over three miles, and he could do even better on better ground as we move into the spring.
Ascot, 20th February 2021