Sandown, Friday December 4th
Early Du Lemo returned to the track after 689 days off and looked to be carrying a fair amount of condition. Held up out the back he was given time to work himself into the contest. As the field swung down the back straight his jumping got better and it brought him in to the contest. As he cleared the Pond Fence he looked to be in with a big shout and to his credit galloped all the way to the line. He is sure to take a big step forward from this as long as he isn’t turned out too quickly. Darebin, who looked in good nick, enhanced his good course record with a gutsy display. This fella does not know how to lay down, and to his credit when passed he seemed to get a new lease of life jumping the Pond Fence. What I like about this fella is that the hill brings out the best in him so I am sure he will return in the coming months.
Rose Sea Has, this strong looking gelding finally completed the course after two mishaps. He made a few minor errors on the way round, but hopefully this will do his confidence some good. Ardmayle looked fine, but made a mistake at the first and his jumping just didn’t hold up throughout the contest.
Falcon Sun was the paddock pick and seemed to be going well until making a terrible blunder at the fifth fence. He played catch up thereafter.
Alnadam was having his second start over fences and looked in fantastic shape. His jumping from the off was good and you could see he travelled fairly confidently throughout the contest. As he led coming to the pond fence he found extra and pulled away to an impressive victory. The handicapper will have his say, but I still think this fella is on the up.
Before Midnight, this chestnut by Midnight Legend looked very fit and did nothing wrong. He jumped and travelled well throughout, but didn’t have what was needed to stay with the winner approaching the second last. On this performance he should be able to break his duck over fences. Killer Clown, this well-made 6yo looked fine beforehand and raced prominently from the start. When the pace increased his jumping was found out and hopefully this experience will not be lost on him.
Funambule Sivola who came here after winning 9 days ago, got himself into a lovely rhythm once the race was underway. Placed in midfield he looked to be going well, but a mistake at the second Railway Fence seemed to knock him out of his stride and the Pond Fence sealed his fate.
Even though Star Gate was a convincing winner this was hardly a race. In fact it turned out to be a 3 furlong sprint.
Valleres looked fine/well, but I thought his superior Flat speed would come to his aid given the way the race unfolded. His mistake at the second last stopped his forward momentum and he was beat.
Sending Love looked very fit and went out in front at a very slow pace. Once the pace quickened at the second last his race was over.
Portrush Ted, this was an excellent performance by trainer Warren Greatrex to have this fella fit and ready to go after a long absence. He jumped well to start with, but was rusty at a couple of flights and his mistake at the last could have stopped his momentum, but Gavin Sheehan gathered his mount together and under an excellent ride forced his head in front. This gelding has loads of talent, but is very hard to keep sound. I just hope the trainer can get a clear run with him so he can see what he has got.
Storm Arising looked in tip top shape and when he came through with his challenge and was two lengths in front, you could see his stride begin to shorten up the hill and he had nothing left towards the line.
The paddock pick Farrants Way was given a positive ride from the front, and even when challenged coming around the final bend he found extra and was still in with a fighting chance. Flemcara, Illegal Model and Espion all looked fine. The former ran his best race to date.
Sandown, Saturday December 5th
Yggdrasil, this half-brother to the smart chaser Siruh Du Lac is well-built and looked ready to strut his stuff. He took a good hold in the early stages and jumped to his left at a number of flights. It looked as if he was going to be swallowed up coming around the final bend, but as he was passed found his second wind and did well to finish in third.
Elham Valley, this ex-Flat racer looked fit and took well to his new discipline. He moved down the back and gradually worked his way into the contest. As he surged to the front he skipped over the last and stayed on well to the line.
Hudson De Grugy, who is related to Sire De Grugy - also trained by Gary Moore - looked just ready to start and led the field at a steady pace. Overall I thought this was a good start, but his future lies over fences.
Paros, this chestnut gelding is not the biggest, but it appears his jockey Nico De Boinville is having problems when horses take a keen hold as he doesn’t seem to have the hands required to settle them, meaning his mounts are running too keen in their races. This fella was still pulling coming in to the home straight and given the heavy ground he did well to finish in fourth.
The Worthy Brat looked fine and still looks a work in progress.
This was a cracking Grade 1 where all the five runners were unbeaten over fences and Allmankind proved to be the one to retain his unbeaten record. He looked terrific in the paddock and his great asset is to jump at speed, which took most of his opponents out of their comfort zones. As he injected pace coming around the final bend he skipped over the last two, but you could see he was feeling the effects approaching the line. He recorded a faster time than the Tingle Creek Chase, which is run half an hour later. The trainer hinted that he may go to the Kingmaker at Warwick. Hitman, who won on debut at Ffos Las, looked in rude health and even though he was beaten I thought this was a massive step up on his previous form. When you consider the winner had more experience than him, I thought this was a commendable effort, suggesting there is more to come.
Ga Law, who was the most unfurnished member of the field, may have found the ground and the company a little too hot to handle so early on in his career.
Eldorado Allen, who looked fine, probably found this pace too hot to handle and may be seen in better light stepping up in trip.
Phoenix Way looked great and has taken a step forward since his last win, but was struggling to jump at pace. An extra half a mile is required.
This race has been won by some great two-mile chasers over the years and Politologue became Paul Nicholls’ eleventh winner of this Grade 1 event. He made all and had the race under control from the start, and I like the way he bounded up the hill. I suspect he will head off to Ascot before he tries to defend his championship come March.
His stablemate Greaneteen ran the race of his life in filling the runner-up spot. He did nothing wrong and came with a well-timed challenge, but had no extra to give up the hill.
Rouge Vif stood out paddock side, but the ground was never going to be to his liking. I thought he ran well considering his stable is very short on winners.
Star performance of the week:
Doing Fine It is rare that justice prevails second time around. Having won the London National last year which was void, he was able to make amends this year at the ripe old age of 12.
Horse to note:
Golden Boy Grey I know this was not much of a race, but I was impressed with this 4yo’s debut effort. He showed a sharp turn of foot from the last and will hopefully have a bright future.