RACHAEL Blackmore enjoyed a day to remember at Naas last Saturday, landing a first ever four-timer which included a winning return to action for Captain Guinness who added his name to the list of horses from last year’s Arkle field to have won a graded chase this season.
The theme of the day was the overall race times not representing a true guide in highlighting the best performances on the clock. Captain Guinness (153) was not exempt from such a comment although it may allude that the Henry De Bromhead-trained gelding can be a more manageable character through his races this season.
Felix Desjy (146) made the early running at no more than a steady pace and there was no discernible change when stablemate Andy Dufrene (151) took over as the first named was reluctant to have a cut at the first fence on the circuit.
Having declined a second opportunity to race exuberantly, Captain Guinness was eventually given the signal to win the race as the field approached the second last fence.
Ears pricked, the son of Arakan put his rivals to the sword on his way to posting the fastest closing sectional on the day as he covered the ground from the fifth last fence to the line in 89.7 seconds.
Novice chase winner Mr Incredible (115+) displayed plenty of dash in the closing stages and was closest to his more illustrious stablemate from the same point as he stopped the clock at 92.5 seconds, albeit the overall time was by far the slowest when adjusted for distance.
In contrast, Wa Wa (128) clocked a respectable overall time and, although his closing sectional of 94.1 seconds was the slowest, the six-year-old was eased. Dermot McLoughlin’s gelding has potential to step up in grade successfully.
It was not all success on the afternoon for the De Bromhead and Blackmore alliance though as Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios (144) met with defeat on his seasonal bow. However, the clock shows it was more about an improved performance from Teahupoo (150) rather than the Cheveley Park Stud youngster regressing.
It took what seemed like an eternity to reach the first hurdle as none of the participants wanted to lead as Jack Kennedy reluctantly took the field along until Blackmore set about making the race a reasonable test.
A comparison to Aldo The Apache (130), who recorded the fastest overall time when adjusted for distance, showed even Blackmore’s effort to increase the pace only partially repaired the early damage as the handicap hurdle field would have reached the fourth last around 13 lengths in advance of the Grade 3 field when joining the races from the last hurdle with a circuit to run.
The sprint for home began from the fourth last with the closing sectional the fastest of the hurdles and, such was the initial burst of speed to the second last only, An Epic Song (beaten 23 lengths in fourth) would not have surpassed the advantage held by the handicappers.
Gordon Elliott’s gelding completed the section in 78.5 seconds, compared to Uhtred (120) 81.8, Eric Bloodaxe (110) 81.4 and Aldo The Apache 84.8 seconds.
Teahupoo may well find things more difficult when he meets with a stronger early pace, but in similar contests where finishing speed is the requirement he can be supported with confidence to repeat the dose.
The data produced by the first two home in the bumper marks them down as horses to follow as their careers develop.
In comparison to Teahupoo the overall race time was fast enough to allow for jumping the hurdles and furthermore they would have almost matched the same horse in a shortened race from the final hurdle with a circuit to cover.
Bellatior (120+) will learn to settle better with racing and may well improve as a result. On this occasion she still found enough in the closing stages to stop the clock at 80.1 seconds from the wings of the fourth last hurdle as the first two home slowed on the climb to the line.
Kilbarry Chloe (119) fought tenaciously all the way in the latter stages and, as long as she has a hurdling technique to match her determined attitude, she will find success coming her way in the coming season.