The next set of horses to add to our Notebook Horses To Follow Part 1 which was published last Sunday! Again, the focus is on horses likely to be available at value odds the next time they run which may have escaped the attentions of the bookmakers.
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ALTO DES MOTTES (Henry Hogarth)
Alto Des Mottes appeared to have the North Yorkshire Grand National sewn up when he kicked clear in the home straight at Catterick on January 14th but, in a race run at a strong pace, it was a rare misjudgement by Brian Hughes to make such a positive move when he did and, after tying up in the closing stages, he was reeled in by Lackamon. However, Alto Des Mottes was clearly the moral winner that day and, only a 6yo, he remains very much of interest for marathon events. The Eider Chase at Newcastle in February looks a suitable target.
JENNYS SURPRISE (Fergal O’Brien)
Jennys Surprise has run well from the front on the last two of his three starts over fences but at Lingfield in December he didn’t set a strong enough gallop and was out-speeded in the closing stages, then at Chepstow in January he went slightly too fast and was out-stayed after the final fence. He’s a sound jumper who seems quite versatile ground-wise and can win off his current mark next time if his jockey judges the pace well.
MIDNIGHT PRAYER (Alan King)
My sectional times for the Betfred Classic Chase at Warwick on 15th January confirm the visual impression that the race didn’t develop into the extreme stamina test we might have been expecting. Charlie Poste earns full marks for seizing the initiative and building up a lead on Russe Blanc towards the end of the back straight on the final circuit and, given the winner ran on strongly all the way to the line, it’s no surprise Midnight Prayer (who was ridden with more patience) didn’t have the speed to catch him. However, his second-place finish still goes down as an excellent Grand National trial for Alan King’s gelding, who doesn’t haven’t many miles on the clock for an 11yo and will be better suited by faster ground at Aintree.
THE CLOCK LEARY (Venetia Williams)
After a disappointing start to the season The Clock Leary seemed to enjoy the switch to front-running tactics and/or respond well to first-time blinkers at Kempton on January 9th, where he ran much better than the bare form of his 19l third suggests. He was a shade too keen in the early stages and, basically, set too strong a pace before tiring in the closing stages. On that evidence, he’ll be suited by a drop back to 2m (from 2m2f) and could prove much harder to catch off a 3lb lower mark next time.
VIVACCIO (Venetia Williams)
It’s well known that Venetia Williams-trained horses often excel on heavy ground but her 7yo gelding Vicaccio may prefer less-testing conditions and I thought he did well to claim fourth when the mud was flying at Warwick on January 15th, having made a momentum-stopping mistake at the final fence in the back straight and another error at the last. Admittedly, he doesn’t look to be in the same sparkling form as when winning twice at Ludlow in late 2014 but the handicapper ought to drop him a couple of lbs after his latest run and he’ll be worth chancing next time out.