There is usually more benefit to noticing an interesting performance when you believe the majority are more likely to have missed it. Identifying winning and losing efforts that may be underrated or overrated in the future can be critical. Below are Andy’s notes on five horses he says put up noteworthy performances on the opening day of the Aintree Festival.
I figured his mistake at the 10th fence might help him settle down. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as he was still going through the final corner. It probably almost lasted at home; That said, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to back him on this trip another day, especially in a small field chase where he’s more likely to shoot hard again. This contest was a slow affair compared to the Aintree Bowl which took place an hour later. He was less than half a length from the final fence before being overtaken by the winner who eventually finished in front by a comfortable length and a half. Though it probably would have settled better given a faster gallop; at the same time, it would be certain not to see this trip in a real racing competition.
Star of the stage
Unlike Cheltenham, he didn’t have a clean round of jumps here. He tried to do it all, but had the ultimate winner in close attendance the entire time. He landed last in the back straight which was the first sign of everything not feeling right. He was then low and crossed the top of the cross fence which is four from the house. Once headed over the third to last fence he dropped quickly to finish 15 lengths behind the winner at the finish line. I doubt he’s the most resolute in a finish, which is something I want to remember next time he’s competing in a race where he’s not able to build as easy a lead as the one he got at Cheltenham. Perhaps this meager final effort was just as much a response to that festival effort it won in March. Either way, he is a horse that will likely look good on a day’s work and be overbet as a result; especially if you don’t enjoy a long break between races.
I thought he coped well with this jumping test in a more competitive race. It was certainly more efficient than I thought it could be. The form at this race is very strong going into the 2024 renewal and conversely, I will remain open-minded about its quality in the face of a different set of conditions. In his case, he is an inexperienced and improving chaser and it should be difficult to get back into the right race next season.
Along with his teammate Gray Diamond who finished next to him, he was discovered by the long run from the penultimate fence to the last. It was a similar story in the 2022 renewal of this chase. I suspect the lead is just too fast and demanding for him versus a smaller field chase where he can dominate. He is starting to look very handicapped for a return to a small field chase at Ascot on decent ground early next season.
Even though the terrain was how he would have liked it, the way the race played out did nothing for the robber horses. ground chase next season; all the more so as the handicap finally gave way and took it to 137.
Andy Gibson’s Eyecatchers Service article: Saint Roi and three others to watch first appeared on Planetsport.com.