Racing TV’s Andy Stephens and Harry Allwood have nominated six horses who it could pay to follow over the coming months following their efforts at The Showcase meeting at Cheltenham.
There was some cracking action at Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting on Friday and Saturday with plenty of early-season quality on offer.
The ground was officially described as “good” on Friday, but the times suggested it was more like good to soft, while on Saturday there was more rain plus a strong wind was also blowing into the faces of the horses. As such, those horses lacking anything in fitness were found out over the two days.
It's probably no coincidence that six of the seven winners on Friday had already been in action this season.
Below are six who caught the eye in defeat for Andy Stephens (AS) and Harry Allwood (HA). Hopefully, they should be winning before long.
Trainer: Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Napping a horse and having a few quid on it tends to concentrate the mind, so my first viewing of 2m5f handicap hurdle on Friday focused purely on Our Power.
It was all going to plan for most of the race as he moved smoothly on the outside and had moved into second behind Captain Tom Cat approaching the last with Sam Twiston-Davies still yet to ask for maximum effort.
However, Our Power was having his first run since landing a similarly competitive contest at Kempton in March and his absence, plus top-weight of 11st 10lb, seemed to find him out when it mattered most. He ended up finishing sixth, although he was only beaten about three lengths by the unexposed winner.
The five who beat Our Power home had all been in action this campaign and that was almost certainly a factor in the final outcome. He will be sharper next time and the obvious race for the five-year-old is the 0-140 Paddy Power-sponsored intermediate handicap hurdle over the same trip at the November Meeting. (AS)
Trainer: Ben Pauling.
Whatsupwithyou finished a place behind Our Power in the 2m5f handicap hurdle and is another who demands a place in your Racing TV Tracker.
The six-year-old went into the race short on experience, having had only three previous races, and was having his first start for seven months.
That showed, to a degree, with his 7lb claimer having to get busy on him a lot earlier than many others in the field and, in truth, the combination never looked like playing a hand in the finish.
However, there was plenty to like about the way. Whatsupwithyou stuck to his task and he ended up finishing a close seventh. He should have learnt plenty and his running style, plus pedigree, point to him being even more effective when he is unleashed over three miles.
Like Our Power, the 2m5f intermediate hurdle on the Saturday of The November Meeting might easily be next on his agenda but, if he were mine, I’d at least a take a look at the more valuable Listed 3m handicap hurdle on the same afternoon. His rating of 132 means that, in a typical year, he will be towards the foot of the weights in that race. (AS)
Trainer: Paul Nicholls.
Two horses attracted decent bets in the closing 2m handicap hurdle that closed the card on Friday – Tegerek and One True King - and they duly dominated the finish.
However, the manner in which they finished clear was slightly misleading because the shape of the race changed dramatically two out, when Sternrubin and Clemencia came down independently and hampered plenty of their rivals.
Wild Max was among the chief sufferers, although it would be stretching it to say he was an unlucky loser as he faded to finish fourth in the closing stages. Let’s just say that he would have finished closer without the carnage he got tangled up in.
The five-year-old was having his first run since early February and it could be that sharper tracks than Cheltenham will suit him best. His best form on that Flat, in Germany, was up to 1m2f and his two wins last term were achieved at Taunton.
He might be one to look out for when the jumping action resumes at Ascot next month. (AS)
Trainer: John Quinn.
Another who caught the eye in the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle was Ashington who finished a place in front of Wild Max despite being badly hampered – when still travelling well - by a faller two out before staying on to finish third.
I think it’s fair to say he would not have beaten the impressive winner, but he may have challenged for second had he not suffered that interference.
This was a much-improved effort compared to his two runs on the Flat prior to this, and they were probably used as prep runs ahead of a campaign over jumps this winter.
John Quinn’s five-year-old was successful in two novice hurdles last season before posting a couple of useful efforts in defeat in handicaps and he remains unexposed over obstacles.
This run suggests he is capable of landing a similar race this season and is a handicapper worth following. (HA)
Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill
Honest Vic impressed in this competitive handicap with a dominant performance on his seasonal debut. Fifth in the Coral Cup when last seen, Henry Daly’s gelding seemed to relish three miles and may even end up a Graded performer by the end of the season.
However, one that caught the eye in behind was Lock’s Corner who has been a revelation since undergoing wind surgery and found only the winner too good.
Having landed two handicap hurdles after a wind op, the first off a rating of 105, the six-year-old was successful twice over fences on his first two starts this year before returning to hurdles on Saturday off a rating of 130.
He is likely to be nudged up a few pounds for this run as he pulled over eight lengths clear of the third, Kansas City Chief, who finished sixth in the Pertemps Network Final last season.
However, Lock’s Corner remains relatively lightly-raced and it would be wise to think he has plenty more progress left in him over the coming months.
This was also his first start over three miles, and I expect him to remain competitive in similar handicaps this season. (HA)
Trainer: Dan Skelton.
This looked a useful bumper on paper beforehand, with five of the 14 runners successful on their previous starts under rules, plus some future stars have won and been placed in this contest in the past, including Moon Racer who was successful in 2014 before winning the Champion Bumper.
My Drogo must be held in high regard to be pitched into a Cheltenham bumper on his debut, although the betting would have given you the opposite impression as he was sent off at 50-1 having been 12-1 the night before.
Dan Skelton’s charge made eye-catching headway before the turn for home having travelled well in last throughout the race but could not quite match I Am Maximus up the run in, and the pair pulled seven lengths clear of the third.
The five-year-old is related to numerous winners who were best suited over 2m4f plus, so will almost certainly be seen the best effect over further, and soft ground appeared to suit at Cheltenham.
It will be a surprise if My Drogo is not capable of winning a race in this sphere and he has a bright future judged on this performance. (HA)
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