The Clarence House Chase was rightly the centre of attraction last weekend. My first observation is that Grey Gold, Somersby, and Twinlight bettered, ran within 1lb, or ran too, their previous best RPR. That suggests the race was a true run affair with the form likely to hold-up.
DODGING BULLETS bettered his highest RPR by 6lb, agreeing with the official handicapper who now has him on a mark of 171. The winner jumped well and made progress running into the home bend, ultimately coming home to win comfortably. There has been no fluke about his recent wins or progress. Effective at Prestbury Park, and priced around 5/1, it is hard to argue that he is not a solid each-way selection. However, the stats below raise a worrying trend. DODGING BULLETS has run seventeen times over hurdles and fences. His record in races run in the months of February, March, and April reads; 2, 4, 6, 9, 7, 2, 4, 5. October, November, December, and January reads; 1, 1, 3, 1, 1, 3, 1, 1,1.
Moving onto Sprinter Sacre. I would normally report this was a pleasing return to action. Unfortunately, given the well-documented problems the horse has endured, we have to look at the performance in a different light. Experienced, pre-race paddock watchers, felt he looked fit prior to the race, if lacking the physical presence, he displayed in his pomp. His jumping was competent, without any of the flair or exuberance associated with his best performances. Sprinter Sacre travelled comfortably throughout the race until the second last, where he began to tire. Post-race he was not blowing hard, suggesting pre-race observations were correct. Finding traces of blood has to be a concern; it should not be forgotten the horse had a breathing operation in 2013. Normally it would be easy to forgive what was a relatively minor reading on the equipment used by the vet. However, we are not dealing with normal. Perhaps the most telling words came from Mr Geraghty in one interview. “He gave a good feel, his jumping will get slicker, he’ll be better for match practice, fitness, and everything, so I’d be hopeful we’d narrow the gap come March.” The words “narrow the gap” do not for me, inspire confidence. Denman was a similar scenario. He took several races and a summers rest to regain his best form, and most importantly his confidence.
FSF Ratings 179
SPRINTER SACRE 179
DODGING BULLETS 168
SPRINTER SACRE 2015 168