The Jumps Are Back!
Written by George Gorman, Tuesday 16th October 2018
It’s October, the nights are drawing in and the mornings at Cisswood are a hive of misty, hectic activity as some of our big guns work inexorably towards full fitness. However, some of our seasoned National Hunt campaigners have already made their seasonal debuts in the last couple of weeks. Most notably Graaston got off the mark on his first ever start over Steeplechase fences at Fontwell ten days ago. Despite being lightly raced since arriving in England he has been remarkably consistent, finishing in the money on three of his eight starts over hurdles for us. This was only a small field event but he produced a good round of jumping, making his sole mistake after taking up the lead before the second last. It would be fair to put this down to having no company as he ran out an eventual twelve-length winner; we eagerly await his next run to see just how far he could go in this sphere. This Saturday Traffic Fluide made his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow and hopefully took his first step towards winning another Graded race having signed off last season by winning a Grade Two at the home of National Hunt racing, Cheltenham. This was an exceptional comeback from a horse that really struggled to get his season off the ground for much of last year due to the relentless rain and corresponding soft ground. Having raced just behind the front few he was delivered to challenge from three out before being just out battled by an exceptionally well-handicapped opponent. As debuts go we really couldn’t be any more pleased, especially given the blows his confidence seemed to take last winter, with any luck he’ll be able to take aim at some big targets this season. The very next day at Chepstow Baron Alco became another to make a phenomenal start to his season. He had a 577-day absence to overcome and yet finished second by only a head to a horse of undeniable class in Kim Bailey’s Charbel. He understandably ran a little freely early on and jumped to the right at a couple of fences. This added to a deserved lack of match fitness may have contributed to his defeat but one would imagine that neither of these things will be an issue next time and it’s fantastic to see him retain so much ability after so much time off.
As for the jumpers making their seasonal debuts this week, we have the return of the evergreen Vino Griego at Wincanton on Friday. He was lightly raced last year, as one would expect for a thirteen year old, but ran plenty of good races in defeat. He may not be getting any younger but his chasing mark has now slipped below 120 for the first time in his career, allowing him into a lower band of handicaps, which should give him a lot of decent opportunities in addition to the Veteran Race Series. Also making his return that day is Eragon De Chanay, who runs in a handicap hurdle on the same card. The winner of two hurdle races last season, this striking four year old struggled slightly in Graded races although he was unlucky to run into some truly top class horses including Apple’s Shakira and We Have A Dream. Despite this he managed to amass a respectable hall of prize money and with any luck he will have matured an improved into a Graded race contender this year. Potentially the best of our flat runners this week could be Thechildren’strust who attempts to regain some form at Brighton on Thursday. He finished down the field last time at Kempton when tackling a mile for the first time but we’re hopeful that the switch back to grass and the return of regular pilot Hector Crouch will give us a definitive answer as to whether he stays a mile.
Please tune into the blog at the weekend as next Monday sees us mob handed at Plumpton yet again!