Weekly Handicap Blog – Fences will be the making of him!

This week features 2 or 3 that plenty of you wont be agreeing with but I am confident that next season and over fences and he will bounce back.

Cap Du Nord dropped 1lb to 139

This felt very much like an end of season handicap change from the handicapper rather than dropping him because he had disappointed. His form over fences this year has been very good, 412355 with his only poor running coming in a handicap hurdle. He finished 5th in his final run of the season in the Bet365 Gold Cup where the right horses were all in the finish. Crosspark who has a habit of finishing 2nd in these big feature handicap chases was only able to manage 6th and I really think this shows the form of this race was very strong. I expect Kitty’s Light and Enrilo to be Welsh National, Becher Chase, Grand National horses of the future and I think this was a career best from Cap Du Nord and yet the handicapper dropped him 1lb. Jack switching to Kitty’s Light meant Cap Du Nord didn’t have his usual jockey and Nick obviously couldn’t claim either. Putting Jack on next time and he would be running off a 4lb lower mark. Having run well over 3m5f at Sandown he has shown he stays further now and it would be no surprise to see him running over at least 3m next season. The Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (won on his last start at Newbury) looks ideal.

Thyme White dropped 3lb to 135

Thyme White disappointed in the Scottish Champion Hurdle after running ok in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. These came after a reasonable effort in the Betfair Hurdle when finishing 9th after having every chance at the last. This suggests he may need further but he’s only 5 so I think Paul has been reluctant to step up in trip this season but feel he will next season. He ran well at the beginning of the season when winning the Limited Handicap for 4 Year olds at Chepstow and was in the process of running a big race when unseating at Newbury next time out. He was travelling just as well as Milkwood that day when unseating and he’s gone on to finish 3rd in a County Hurdle and win the Scottish Champion Hurdle but is a 7 year old and I expect in time Thyme White to be of a similar level. I think the obvious starting point for this Paul Nicholls horse would be back at Chepstow where Paul always does well. The Silver Trophy over 2m3f100y at Chepstow (where Thyme White won at the start of the season) looks ideal.

Solo dropped 4lb to 135

After winning the Adonis on British debut Solo was given a handicap mark of 157. This may have been extreme but he’s dropped down to a mark of 135 now which looks very workable. I don’t think he wants any further than 2m and think his form backs that up. When he’s been tried over further he’s finished 12th and 10th beaten 32 lengths and 39 lengths. Just looking at his 2m form and it reads much better with 18454. Paul has always suggested he wants a fence and this season as a 4/5 year old was just getting more experience. When he’s sent over fences, I think he will be aimed at picking up a few small races in which he can both gain experience and not really affect his handicap mark before trying his hand at something like the Red Rum Handicap at Aintree next season. It wouldn’t surprise me if his prep for Aintree was the Novice handicap chase at Kempton just after Cheltenham.

Bob Mahler dropped 4lb to 128

Bob Mahler was dropped 4lb for his 9th place finish in the competitive Bet365 Gold Cup. I think the front 7 were arguably the ‘right’ horses and Bob Mahler didn’t run badly on ground that would have been much too quick for him. He’s had a terrible season with 3 pulled up efforts and being brought down at Cheltenham (when starting to make ground). He ran ok for 3rd in the Edinburgh National in a race that was arguably stronger than it looked. The runner up had won over 4m at Kelso on his previous start whilst the winner has since finished 2nd in a Midlands National and won the Scottish National. Bob Mahler needs cut in the ground and arguably wants as far as he can get and having now dropped from 142 at the start of the season to his end of season 128 mark he can bounce back next season. We know the ground at Haydock is very often soft/heavy and the 3m4f handicap at Haydock in late November won last season by Perfect Candidate looks ideal.

Mr Lupton dropped 2lb to 101

Mr Lupton was dropped another 2lb to 101 after running what can only be described as a satisfactory effort at Ripon when a never nearer 4th. This means he is now just 1lb higher than when winning a feature handicap in Ireland last season and 3lb higher than when 3rd at Ripon in the Great St Wilfred and 3rd at Ayr in Ayr Gold Cup. He generally needs 2 or 3 runs to get to full fitness (took 3 runs last season) and I think that’s the idea with Mr Lupton this year. He has some decent form at Ascot and I think the Wokingham Stakes is his target. There is still 50 days until the Wokingham so I think he’ll have at least another outing in a race where he’s not really put into the race. The Abernant Stakes at Newmarket in which he ran in last year could well be where we see him next before returning to Royal Ascot. He’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.