I’ve written previously about VICENTE (160) and his affinity for good ground conditions, and despite his fall at the first in the Grand National itself a few weeks ago, he made some amends by landing the Scottish version for the second year in a row.  Timing the race for the final 2.5m section gives the following sectionals:

Label Des Obeaux Vicente Difference
12.76 12.76 0
26.22 26.45 0.23
37.37 37.5 0.13
52.03 52.02 -0.01
79.94 79.04 -0.9
92.25 91.46 -0.79
104.1 103.03 -1.07
119.08 117.93 -1.15
173.3 172.28 -1.02
185.38 184.09 -1.29
197.97 196.86 -1.11
208.19 207.48 -0.71
221.6 221.36 -0.24
247.15 248 0.85
258.48 259.93 1.45
269.27 271.03 1.76
283.33 285.3 1.97
295.38 298.01 2.63

As you can see, they were going a decent pace in the marathon chase, in comparison with the mile shorter handicap chase earlier on the card.  At one stage they were 1.29s ahead but understandably the national runners lost some time as their efforts told later in the race, but this was still a smart performance from Vicente and he remains of interest for the National next season if he gets the decent ground he needs.  He clearly stays well, and if he can improve his jumping for the national fences I remain convinced he can land the big race.



In my Cheltenham review I’d written to look out for the vanquished runners behind the mighty Altior, and CLOUDY DREAM (166) duly landed the Future Champion Novice Chase in a decent time.

If we compare his time to that of Label Des Obeaux in the handicap chase we can see the merits of this race clearly:

Label Des Obeaux Cloudy Dream Difference
12.76 12.61 -0.15
26.22 25.88 -0.34
37.37 36.75 -0.62
52.03 51 -1.03
79.94 77.55 -2.39
92.25 89.27 -2.98
104.1 100.75 -3.35
119.08 115.55 -3.53
173.3 168.69 -4.61
185.38 180.49 -4.89
197.97 193.44 -4.53
208.19 203.46 -4.73
221.6 217.21 -4.39
247.15 242.59 -4.56
258.48 253.58 -4.9
269.27 264.13 -5.14
283.33 277.62 -5.71
295.38 289.7 -5.68


As you can see they went steadily faster all the way to the line, clocking a time 5.68s quicker.  It should be noted that this was done carrying 5lbs less, and over 4f less in distance, but even when adjusting for this it was still a top class performance from the winner.

I’d been worried about his ability to get this trip after his run at Aintree but he would now seem capable of thriving at 2 and 2.5 miles.  He went into this race with an official mark of 155 and he would be an interesting runner in any big handicap chase next season off that mark…maybe the Bet Victor Gold Cup?

He wouldn’t be the only potentially well handicapped horse to emerge from this race though, with THEINVAL (161) and OLDGRANGEWOOD (160) both looking well handicapped before their reassessment.  Theinval travelled well in this race but couldn’t quite go with the classy winner, it is interesting to note that he has solid form in big fields with a win in a 21 runner handicap hurdle at Aintree, and a 3rd place in the Grand Annual this year.  A big field gives him plenty of cover and the opportunity to travel in his races…he goes on the shortlist for big handicap chases next year.

The fourth placed horse CLAN DES OBEAUX (160) came under pressure as the pace quickened but stayed on well to finish just six lengths back.  Still only 5 years old, there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree and he looks an excellent prospect for staying handicap chases next season.  He jumped to his right at times here, but is unbeaten in two starts at Newbury and is at the top of my list of Hennessy Gold Cup prospects next year (or whatever they call it these days!).  He was rated 150 prior to this race, and could certainly have the required stone in hand to land a race of that ilk.



To say VANITEUX (170) had been a frustrating horse this season would be an understatement, but in first time cheekpieces he bounced right back to his best to clock a fast time and land this handicap chase from some well handicapped horses.

Cloudy Dream Vaniteux Difference
11.48 11.03 -0.45
26.28 24.9 -1.38
79.42 77.14 -2.28
91.22 88.8 -2.42
104.17 101.32 -2.85
114.19 111.68 -2.51
127.94 125.14 -2.8
153.32 150.65 -2.67
164.31 161.92 -2.39
174.86 172.67 -2.19
188.35 186.53 -1.82
200.43 198.99 -1.44

Clocking them from the first jump in the two mile race, Vaniteux clocked a time 1.44s quicker than the top class Cloudy Dream did in the 2.5m contest.  Even allowing for the fact that this run from Vaniteux was over the minimum trip, it still merits a big number and one that is in line with some of his performances last season which culminated in his fall when going well alongside Douvan and Sizing John in the Arkle.

He has been tried over 2.5miles this season and I wouldn’t give up on that project with him, one thing that does seem necessary though is a flat track.  His form on such tracks since joining Henderson reads 41512111 with his defeats coming on ground that was probably too soft for him, and a second place to the top class Ar Mad.  On a flat track he is a very good horse, and the obvious race that comes to mind as a target next season is the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton at Christmas.

ROMAIN DE SENAM (145) and SOMCHINE (148) both chased home the impressive winner, and clocked decent times in their own rights finishing 5 lengths behind him.  They should still be well handicapped once reassessed, running here off marks of 133 and 136 respectively and should pay their way next year in handicap chases.


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