Mike Francis runs the stopwatch over chasers and hurdlers
CLAN DES OBEAUX was visually impressive when winning the Betway Bowl at Aintree and the clock agreed – with the grey registering the best chase figure of the meeting on 145.
Some of his rivals were below their best but Paul Nicholls’ star seemed to enjoy the first-time cheekpieces and jumped brilliantly. There was plenty left in the tank crossing the line.
If the headgear continues to work he would be respected if having another crack at the King George he won in 2019.
MINELLA TIMES got the headlines as Rachael Blackmore won the Grand National but the great race is never one to get excited about on the clock. A figure of 100 is neither here nor here when you consider the impact the victory had. Even the Grand National winner doesn’t make the front pages very often but JP McManus’s silks were on most newspaper covers the following day.
From a speed figures perspective, the Topham was run in a more impressive time with LIVELOVELAUGH hugely impressive with a figure of 140 reflecting that. Given he’s 11 and won’t stay much further than this 2m5f trip, we won’t see him in the big race but he could have another spin at Punchestown this season and he went close in a good race at the 2019 Festival.
FAKIR D’OUDAIRIES (136) and CLONDAW CASTLE (135) are two other chase winners to really catch the eye at Aintree. The former may well have enjoyed the track more than Cheltenham and that should be kept in mind for future assignments.
On a strict reading of the figures, SHISKIN did nothing special in following up his Cheltenham success with a rating of 126. He didn’t seem to travel quite as well as when taking the Arkle when he clocked a mammoth 156 but it was an efficient performance and he didn’t have to leave second gear. The Arkle might have left a bit on him too.
He’s still the one they have to beat for next year’s Champion Chase assuming no accidents along the way.
Two Aintree contests stand out over the smaller obstacles. MONMIRAL leads the way with a figure of 147 for winning the Grade 1 for four-year-olds, with the second home ADAGIO clocking the second best SF of the meeting over timber at 141.
That compares very favourably with the winners at Cheltenham and is better than most. He looks a chaser in the making but Nicholls says he’ll start over hurdles next season and see how things work out. He had this as his long-term target but may be able to improve before seeing a fence.
There’s talk of Adagio going on the Flat this summer and he has scope on the level with the Pipe yard having had success with dual-purpose horses before.
The other race of note is the Grade 1 Aintree Hurdle won by ABACADABRAS (131) ahead of the admirable BUZZ (130).
The winner took a tumble in the Champion Hurdle but had no problems here and saw out the 2m4f on this flat track. He could have another crack at Honeysuckle at Punchestown but the Champion Hurdler looks too strong. A place isn’t out the question though.
As for Buzz, he already has Class 2 handicap wins on his Flat CV and could pick up a decent prize this summer. If not, he’ll be a player in top handicap hurdles and better next jumps season.