The star performance of the weekend was undoubtedly that of WAITING PATIENTLY (164) who thrashed his rivals in a Listed race at Kempton over 2m5f, with the clock backing up the visual impression of the performance.

Mercian Prince Waiting Patiently Fountains Windfall
12.38 12.36 12.26
26.68 26.47 25.73
37.59 37.65 36.66
73.66 74.2 73.36
87.14 87.53 87.18
101.14 101.44 101.39
147.1 146.47 146.76
157.37 156.25 156.9
194.98 194.37 195.85
207.04 206.57 208.23
220.11 220.01 222.28
230.45 230.56 233.01
263.56 263.15 266.89
276.32 275.28 279.89
291.21 288.24 293.94
303.35 298.53 304.89

As you can see from the sectionals compared with the other two races, he clocked by far the best time as clocked from the first flight.  He was carrying less weight than the other two winners, and going a shorter distance that Fountains Windfall, but even allowing for these factors he deserves a big rating.

What was perhaps most impressive is the turn of foot he showed in the latter stages of the race, and seemingly doing so within his comfort zone.

Mercian Prince Waiting Patiently Fountains Windfall
230.45 230.56 233.01
72.9 67.97 71.88

The above table shows the time that each winner took to reach four out, and from there to the line.  As you can see Waiting Patiently got to four out in near enough exactly the same time as Mercian Prince in the handicap chase run over the same distance.  From there though he scooted home 4.93s quicker.  He was also quicker throughout than Fountains Windfall was in the three mile chase, and that horse is now being touted as a live RSA contender!

He is no doubt an exciting horse, having only just turned seven so it’s worth looking at his profile a bit closer.  First up, there seems to be some consensus that he needs soft ground.  On looking at his form initially that would look to be the case but his two runs this season have both come on good to soft, and the one time he ran on ground described purely as “good” he went down by a length to the top class Cloudy Dream as a four year old.

The obvious target for him would look to be the Ryanair, where he would likely clash with Un De Sceaux.  The one problem is that his perceived best conditions would also suit that rival who is a bit of a freak on soft ground, so his best chance would be on better ground which shouldn’t inconvenience him as much.  He goes there with a live chance.

Long term the King George back at Kempton would look a suitable long term target next season, there’s plenty of stamina in the pedigree and we can see he handles the track fine.  I’m not sure his stamina would extend to the Gold Cup, but he would certainly be an interesting King George contender.  I’m pretty sure he can progress further from this performance and join the elite horses around at the moment capable of posting 170+ numbers.


I’ve struggled to get to grips with FOUNTAINS WINDFALL (150+), going back and forth about whether he’s an RSA candidate or not.  He was three lengths clear and going well when coming down in the Kauto Star at Christmas, and made amends at the weekend by winning a relatively weak handicap off a mark of 146.

I’ve only been able to rate him 150, as he was eased in the closing stages, but he’s probably capable of putting in a mark of around 160.  That would tie in with what he could’ve done if standing up on the last two times where he’s fallen when in contention.  He deserves to go for a big race like the RSA, but I’d probably be a bit underwhelmed if he won the race.  They did go quite slow in this race, and I don’t think the Kauto Star at Christmas was that strong on the clock either, so whilst he’s no doubt a good horse, I’ll wait and see what turns up on the day, especially with some big names in Ireland still to race.


I was keen on a few outsiders down the weights in the Lanzarote Hurdle, but as it turned out the classy top weight WILLIAM HENRY (160) proved to be well ahead of his mark and was suited by reverting to hurdles after a disastrous experiment with chasing.

Redicean Chef Des Obeaux William Henry Jenkins
19.18 18.67 18.18 17.98
69.52 67.76 66.76 67.72
80 77.25 76.64 77.54
127.04 122.21 121.55 124.64
152.05 146.6 145.23 148.36
201.58 199.19 194.2 195.35
217.92 217.33 211.99 212.42
229.63 230.41 224.29 224.75

As you can see from the table above, he clocked a time 5.34s quicker than Redicean did for the two mile course, despite going five furlongs further.  He managed to clock an overall time faster than Jenkins too, but this was due to the faster early pace, as we can see now:

Redicean Chef Des Obeaux William Henry Jenkins
152.05 146.6 145.23 148.36
77.58 83.81 79.06 76.39

They went a much stronger pace in the Lanzarote, as you can see above, he got to three out 6.82s quicker than Redicean did in the two mile juvenile hurdle.  Unsurprisingly, the younger horse made up some time from there but he only made up 1.48s and was carrying less weight…and of course hadn’t gone as far.  Jenkins made up more time in the latter stages, and rates higher than Redicean as a result, but the overall time, and factoring in weight and distance still points to this being a hot race.  The comparison with Chef Des Obeaux, the winner of the longer race over three miles, highlights things further.  He got to three out 1.37s quicker, and came home 4.75s faster from there.  All this data points to a figure of 160 for William Henry, who was clearly well ahead of his mark of 145.

He’s only been put up to 151 after this and that looks lenient, making him a live contender for the Coral Cup, which connections landed with Whisper off a big weight.  If he gets three miles he would have a shot in a Stayers Hurdle, and with plenty of flat staying performers that perhaps is a possible eventuality.  Interestingly, his mother was a half-sister to Strangely Brown who ran in a Stayers Hurdle.  A race like the Aintree Hurdle may be perfect for him, but wherever he goes he is an unexposed hurdler who I want to be on the right side of.

With the winner putting up a good figure, it follows that the horses in behind look interesting for subsequent races.

SPIRITOFTHEGAMES (148) ran a big race, going down by just three quarters of a length.  This was just his sixth run over hurdles and he would also look to be a live contender for the Coral Cup.  Similarly lightly raced was the third placed RED INDIAN (146) who should land a handicap.

Back in fourth was TOPOFTHEGAME (151) who like the winner was reverting from an unsuccessful foray over fences.  This is the time of the year than Nicholls does his flu jabs for horses, and he actually hasn’t had a winner yet this year so this run reads very well in that context.  He does look every inch a chaser and remains an exciting prospect in that sphere having only just turned six.

DIESE DES BIEFFES (146) went off favourite but still ran a fine race to finish fifth.  He put up this sort of number when second to If The Cap Fits, and with that run only eighteen days prior to this perhaps this came a bit soon.

COEUR BLIMEY (139) ran very well to finish sixth considering the number of jumping mistakes he meant, and LE PARIOTE (132) made a pleasing UK debut for the Newland yard.  He may be suited by a drop in trip as he was bang there travelling well two out but didn’t seem to quite see out the race.


I gave JENKINS (151) a big rating when he won on his debut at Newbury over hurdles last season.  Happily that figure was backed up by the exploits of the vanquished horses with Bags Groove, Captain Forez and Pingshou.  Rather unhappily Jenkins seemed to go completely off the rails but the application of a hood and setting him out in front at Kempton on Saturday looks to have done the trick with the horse, and hopefully he can progress from here.

He clocked a time 4.88s quicker than Redicean did over the same distance, and carried a pound more in weight, with the younger horse only making up 1.35s from two out.  Jenkins actually clocked the fastest time from three out.  It’ll be interesting to see if he can go on from here, as the promise of that Newbury debut led one to believe he was going right to the top.


The Grade 2 Leamington Novice at Warwick was won by Willoughby Court last year before going onto Cheltenham glory, but I don’t feel that MR WHIPPED (121+) is going to be doing the same this year though he does look a nice long term prospect for Henderson.

Vado Forte Black Ivory Mr Whipped
11.45 12.27 12.35
54.45 57.11 58.23
117.25 120.14 121.21
130.98 134.04 134.89
146.3 150.38 150.77
190.65 194.08 193.38
202.88 205.46 204.97
215.15 217.87 217.69

Mr Whipped clocked an overall time from the first flight in the two mile race just 0.18s than Black Ivory did in the longer race, but this was largely down to the slow pace of the race.

Vado Forte Black Ivory Mr Whipped
146.3 150.38 150.77
68.85 67.49 66.92

As you can see there, Mr Whipped was 0.39s behind Black Ivory at three out, but came home 0.58s quicker.  He travelled seemingly well within himself to do this, and then idled in front so I’d be fairly confident there is a lot of horse still to be found here.  Big races this spring may be too soon on the horizon, but he’s in the right hands to develop into a fine chaser next year.

Rather surprisingly the same can be said about the winner of the lower class novice handicap hurdle that opened the card at Warwick, as VADO FORTE (130) obliterated his rivals in fine style.  He was easy to clock in the big field, looking much bigger than his opponents, being fitted with a big white nose band, and travelling noticeably better than anything else in the race (it’s worth watching if you haven’t seen the race, you can spot him a mile off coming through the field).

As we saw from the sectionals, they went a fast pace in this race, getting to three out over four seconds quicker than the other two races.  The other two races made up time from there, but perhaps not as much as one would expect, and Vado Forte came seven lengths clear of his field in fine style.  He’d not settled in his racing prior to this, and the decent pace of this big field handicap clearly helped in that regard.

He’s gone up to a mark of 112 after this, which would look to underrate him a fair amount.  He would look able to land another race from that sort of mark, and then long-term looks a nice chasing prospect.


I’ll never quite understand some of the talk surrounding Cheltenham that seems to require a short priced favourite for a race to be deemed “up to scratch”.  On my figures this year’s crop of novice hurdlers is as deep as I can remember, and this probably explained why the Supreme didn’t have a clear favourite.  However, everyone seems to happy now that GETABIRD (141) is as short as 5/2 for the opening race of the festival.  But on the figures he’s going to have to improve a fair amount to win that race.

Getabird Impact Factor Goaheadmakemyday
31.64 31.79 33.3
56.95 57.69 59.21
101.15 102.88 104.17
130.54 133.8 134.84
146.86 150.7 151.07
172.23 176.98 176.57
186.38 191.61 190.74
215.08 221.83 221.93
227.27 234.84 235.67

He did clock the fastest time of the three races on the card, but the other two contests were relatively weak affairs and so this is no surprise (the mare Goaheadmakemyday was winning off a mark of 97).

He was consistently quicker throughout in comparison to the maiden hurdle won over the same distance by Impact Factor (121), but was in fact carrying 10lbs less than that horse in winning this race.  His overall time was 7.57s quicker, and on this ground at Punchestown over two miles I can only get him to around 20lbs better than Impact Factor after the weight adjustment.

So, alarm bells are ringing for me already when I hear that he is now a short priced favourite for the Supreme.  Horses like If The Cap Fits, Summerville Boy, Sharjah, Reel Steal, Kalashnikov, Jetz and Slate House have all put up better figures than him this season and look like potential rivals.  Now what is apparent in the post-race analysis is that he is expected to come on for the run, and Mullins will no doubt have him ready to fire come the big day.  But he will have to find at least a stone of improvement to win the Supreme, probably 20lbs in fact, and at a short price I could watch and see rather than pay to find out.

Now if that alarm bell was quietening, another one flared up straight away, and it revolved around comments made by Patrick Mullins.  I’ll copy them straight in here from Racing UK, and then explain my concerns:

Getabird hasn’t got the most fantastic confirmation in the world and that probably counts against him,” he said. “He hasn’t got the greatest set of front legs”

Now he was winning here on soft/heavy ground, and he won his hurdling debut on heavy, and perhaps given his legs issues the softer ground helps him.  He did win his bumper on better ground but jumping at Cheltenham on its undulations on much quicker ground has to be a concern for a horse of that nature with bad front legs. The ground will be called good to soft, but will likely be proper good ground…for a horse with his issues that wouldn’t be ideal.

MENGLI KHAN (136) is another who has put up a big figure this season when winning the Royal Bond. He’s disappointed since then, though was going well before running out through the rails at Christmas where he would likely have put in another 150+ number.  He was probably feeling the effects of that incident here.  He’s a horse with plenty of ability and if he can get back on track can be a threat again.


Whilst this years novice hurdlers are a strong batch, I don’t feel the same can be said about the novice chasers.  I didn’t think last years novice hurdlers were a great crop, and that has probably filtered through to the novice chase division this season.  It would make sense that the three standout horses so far were second season hurdlers or didn’t race at Cheltenham – Footpad, Sutton Place and INVITATION ONLY (148++) are the three.

Invitation Only put up an excellent figure on the clock when beating Any Second Now, and duly followed up here.  He wasn’t as good on the clock this time, but this was down to the race being run at a crawl…we can still see evidence of this latent ability though.

Bilbo Bagins Invitation Only Glencairn View
236.56 239.55 242.04
70.97 62.9 67.5

Bilbo Bagins won the handicap chase over the same course and distance, and looks deserving of a mark around 115/120 having won his race by half a length with the pair eleven lengths clear of the third.  Invitation Only was 3s slower to three out, with the race being run at a sedate pace, but flew home from there 8s quicker to the line.  I can only get to a figure of 148 as a result of the slow early pace, but would be confident of him being able of producing much better…and this would be in line with his run last time out.

The JLT or RSA looks to be potential targets, and it is frustrating in this day and age that we don’t know!  Previously the RSA would’ve been done and dusted as a target, but he’s capable of winning the JLT too.  Wherever he goes I want to be with him.

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