DEFI DISPLAYED HIS TALENT IN TAKING RED-HOT EXETER EVENT
It’s been a busy few days and the most notable highlight to look back on is the win of DEFI DU SEUIL in a red-hot novice chase at Exeter on Friday.
As he did on his chasing debut at Cheltenham, he gave the first few fences plenty of air, but he sharpened up as the race developed and was particularly good over the last four fences. He picked up like the old Defi Du Seuil in the closing stages and I was impressed with him.
It was great to see him do that, as he promised a lot as a juvenile hurdler and after not firing last season, it was hard to be bullish about him coming into this season, but he showed at Exeter that all his talent is still there.
It looked a well above-average novice chase on paper and Topofthegame looked to run a serious race to finish second after losing plenty of ground at the start, so it will be interesting to see how it works out in the weeks ahead.
Defi Du Seuil took a good step forward from his first start over fences to his second, so I’d be hopeful that he will learn from this again and be even better next time.
More experience will only be a help to him and I’m looking forward to riding him again.
The best of my results at Sandown on Saturday came on the Harry Fry-trained PHOENIX WAY who finished second in the Core Spreads “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle.
He travelled into the race nicely and probably just bumped into a very nice horse in I Can’t Explain, who there was plenty of good talk about beforehand.
This represented a step in the right direction for him and he should come forward from it again.
Without doubt the biggest disappointment of my rides at Sandown was the Nicky Henderson-trained APPLE’S SHAKIRA in the Jumeirah Hotels And Resorts December Handicap Hurdle.
I thought going there that she would take all the beating, but she struggled. Even though she won on soft ground last season, there is a chance that the testing ground was the issue here, but it’s hard to be sure.
Sometimes when juveniles step into open company they can be found out and for me, the jury is out on her at the minute.
Over at Cork on Sunday the pick of my rides was the Tony Martin-trained ANIBALE FLY in the Kerry Group Hilly Way Chase and he only ran fine.
The trip was probably on the sharp side for him and he struggled to go the gallop, but to be honest, I was still hoping he would show a bit than he did.
It was his first run of the season and a longer trip will no doubt suit him better, but he’ll need to step up quite a bit from this to compete at the highest level.
ALTIOR WORTH THE WAIT IN TINGLE CREEK
Away from my own rides, what a pleasure it was to watch the Tingle Creek at Sandown on Saturday. I delayed leaving for Heathrow to stay at the track to watch it and I’m delighted I did.
He’s always an interesting horse to watch, as he races behind the bridle and would leave you wondering how much is there, but then he finds so much for just hands-and-heels riding on the run-in.
You’d have to rate him up there along the best we’ve seen in recent times and he’s going to be very hard to beat wherever he goes.
Trip wise, he shapes like he’ll stay further and I’m sure he’d be a great ride in the King George, but it looks like they won’t try it this year. Maybe next year!
MY TENT ONE OF THE BEST NEVER TO WIN A CHAMPION
I have to give a quick few words to My Tent Or Yours, who was retired during the week. He was a wonderful horse for everyone from Nicky to JP and everyone else.
Personally, I got a massive kick out of winning the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on him last year. It was a very good race and for him to win it as he did just before he turned 11 years of age was some effort.
The crowd really appreciated what he did that day and the reception he got was more like what you’d expect to get at the Festival in March than at a December meeting. It was a real thrill.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that he missed nearly two years in his prime through injury and came back to finish second in two more Champion Hurdles, which is a real testament to both him and the team around him.
He must be up there with the best two-mile hurdlers that didn’t win a Champion Hurdle.