Super fit Fort Noble up to the challenge
THE latest Gold Circle Chapter Challenge Finals were held on Saturday and provided three worthy winners in the Bart Ricetrained The Walrus (1 200m), the Dennis Drier-trained Star Empire (1 600m) and the Paul Lafferty-trained Fort Noble (2 000m).
Fort Noble, ridden by Kevin Shea, was a particularly interesting winner as he is likely one of the fittest horses in the country.
Lafferty made the bold move to put three of his good horses, Sports Factor, Fort Noble and Legal Account, on to a heart-rate and interval training program that started at the beginning of April.
The results have proved very good and Legal Account was a touch unlucky not to have provided Lafferty with a double on Saturday as she had to squeeze through a narrow gap on the rail before picking up strongly to run a fast finishing second in the ninth race.
The program is being monitored by Leon Setaro, who explained, “It works on the principle of progressive loading. The horses are built up day by day to take significantly more work, but are never given an overload.
“The equipment used in the program is vital. It consists of a watch that has a satellite receiver as well as a highly sensitive GPS. Then, attached to the girth strap, is a heart-rate monitor, which transmits data to the watch.
“The watch is worn by the jockey. The four recordings taken are speed, incline, distance and heart-rate. We are particularly interested in the heart-rate in running, the heart-rate recovery time and also the maximum heart-rate.”
The program enables the horses to do significantly more work without increasing the risk of injury. In fact, with the horse being so fit, injury risk might well be lessened.
Fort Noble is a three-year-old gelding by Fort Wood who is owned by Steve Sturlese in partnership with B Martin and was also bred by Sturlese.
He is a good advert for the program as he ran last Wednesday over 2 000m, finishing second to an imported son of Hawk Wing, before coming out just three days later and beating a very competitive sixteen horse field in the Chapter Challenge final.
He produced a sustained finishing effort to beat the Rice-trained Royal Day by a length.
Rice was disappointed not to have gained a Chapter Challenge double and revealed that according to Bernard Fayd’Herbe Royal Day had shirked the issue at a crucial stage before running on strongly, by which time it was too late.
Fayd’Herbe had earlier ridden a typically cool and well-timed race to win on Rice’s The Walrus.
The five-year-old Divine Act gelding, owned by D de Abreu, Rice’s wife Pam and Mr and Mrs PA Michaelides, claimed a hat-trick of sprint wins in the process.
He has had his problems and was fitted with a cornel collar prior to his second win in October 2008, as he used to displace his soft palate, a condition that affects a horse’s breathing.
He was also recently off with a pelvic injury for about 10 months, returning in January this year.
Rice has known since his first win, in which he was let go 300m out and stormed through to win by 4,25 lengths, that the key to him is his short run in.
In all three of his latest wins jockeys MJ Odendaal and Fayd’Herbe (last two) have followed this advice and held him up for as long as possible.
One to watch
Stuart Ferrie, assistant trainer to Dennis Drier, said the yard had been confident of victory with Star Empire, a three-year-old Second Empire gelding owned by M Gramanie in partnership with Drier’s wife, Gill, and bred by Sydney Muller, Farrell Ratner and Len Salzman.
“He will win a few races and hopefully land a Listed event,” said Ferrie.
“He enjoyed the cut in the ground and will probably prefer further.”
Winning connections lead in FORT NOBLE (Kevin Shea up) after victory at Clairwood last Saturday. The three-year-old has been on a heart-rate and interval training program since the beginning of April.