ANIBALE NEEDS TO STEP FORWARD FROM CORK IN SAVILLS
The Christmas racing rolls continues on Friday and I’m at Leopardstown for what should be another great day of racing.
The main event is the Savills Chase (15:00) and the Tony Martin-trained ANIBALE FLY is my ride. He’d obviously have a great chance if he could reproduce the form he showed when third in the Gold Cup in March, but while the trip might have been on the sharp side for him on his reappearance in the Hilly Way at Cork last time, I was hoping he would show a bit more than he did.
I’m sure he’ll improve from the run, but he’ll definitely need to do so to get involved in the finish. I think he’ll be fine on the ground. While Presenting Percy hasn’t been declared, it still looks a very competitive renewal with Road To Respect, Disko and Bellshill in there. Monalee is one I wouldn’t be underestimating either.
The other Grade 1 on the card is the Squared Financial Christmas Hurdle (13:50) and I ride an old friend in JEZKI for Jessica Harrington. It’s clear that he isn’t the horse he once was, but he showed when a modest second to Apple’s Jade at Navan in November that he still enjoys himself and is capable of picking up prize money at this level. The ground will be a help to him over this trip and hopefully he can run a solid race.
Earlier on, I ride the Joseph O’Brien-trained Tigris River in the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle (12:45). He has been disappointing since he gave us a great day when winning the Galway Hurdle last year and the longer trip didn’t bring about any great improvement in him at Navan last time. Whatever about the suitability of the trip, he will just need to show more spark if he is to be competitive over any distance.
I’ll give my full reflections on all of the Christmas action when it’s all over, but my initial reaction to BUVEUR D’AIR’s defeat was obviously one of surprise and disappointment. On the day he was beaten fair and square by Verdana Blue.
While the mistake at the third-last didn’t halt his momentum much, given that he was only beaten by a short-head, it was probably the difference between winning and losing on the day.
The track maybe doesn’t play to his strengths either, but that said, on all known form he should have been winning by clear daylight regardless of such things. I haven’t spoken to Nicky about him yet, but on the day and after the race there were no obvious signs that one could point to as a reason for his underperformance.
I’m sure Nicky will be doing everything he can to try and figure it out and hopefully we’ll have more information when we review the full Christmas period in a few days’ time.