What we learned from the weekend: 31st October & 1st November…

Dynaste. When was the last time he actually won over 3 miles?

Now the National Hunt fires are really stoked!

The Charlie Hall Chase and the JNwine Chase were the two centrefolds on either side of the Irish Sea, both containing Cheltenham Gold Cup hopefuls and both races delivering, in their own different way, noteworthy performances.

And with that in mind it’s time to romp on with this weeks…

What we learned from the weekend: 31st October & 1st November…

1. DYNASTE still hasn’t won a 3m+ chase out with the novice ranks…

That’s actually a little bit surprising. Surprising but true.

He looked the ‘real deal’ during his novice chase campaign in the 2012/13 season, pulling in a form line of 11121, including a G1 & G2 victory over 3m & 3m1f, one of which came on heavy ground.

Since stepping into open chase company, however, he has returned a form line of 25123232.

That solitary victory? Well it came the only time he DIDN’T run over a trip of 3 miles or further, in the 2014 Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

ALL of his other non-novice chase starts have been over 3m+. Sure it includes plenty of hot pieces of form (placed efforts in the King George, Betfair Chase, Aintree Bowl…) but he just can’t get his head in front over those staying trips.

The latest ‘2’ on his CV came at the weekend in the Charlie Hall Chase. A race where, although running in snatches, he seemed to come there with plenty in the tank down the home-straight before, what now seems an obligatory, flattening out when the chips were really down.

It can’t have been a fitness issue either as he had warmed up for this 20 days previous over hurdles in France. He should have been fit enough for the task in hand.

Could it be he doesn’t quite stay these 3m+ trips? 

It could be although I would be inclined to think that the actual answer is that he’s maybe just a few pounds shy of the very top of the staying chase tree.

So what’s the obvious answer?

Send him back over the 19f/20f/21f trips of course. Trips where he has a record (in the UK) of 2161121.

How’s this for a seasonal plan Mr Pipe…

Peterborough Chase (20f) – Betfair Ascot Chase (21f) – Ryanair Chase (21f) – Melling Chase (20f)

I reckon the galloping grey could clean up if taking that route…

Get DYNASTE back over the mid-range trips and he’ll get himself back in the winners enclosure

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2. We learned very little about ROCK ON RUBY’s staying power…

…except maybe that he doesn’t quite stay 4 miles!!

OK that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration but he certainly covered significantly more ground than he needed to and significantly more ground than the winner Kilcooley, who sat just behind the pace and on the rail for most of the contest.

Tactically they were all over the place with him on Saturday and in the end he probably did well to finish as close as he did. Kilcooley, on the other hand, was given an exemplary ride and the button was pressed on him at just the right time, Richard Johnson using his track position to great effect to put the race to bed in the home-straight.

In their defence the ground had turned less than ideal for ROR, however, it’s easy to forget that he finished second in a Champion Hurdle on soft, to no less a horse than the mighty Hurricane Fly, recording an RPR figure of 170 in the process (only 1lb below his best ever figure) so it’s hard to argue that he doesn’t actually handle such going.

The ROR staying question still remains unanswered at present, I just hope it doesn’t always remain unanswered, it would be good to know either way…

There is plenty of stamina in his pedigree, let him use it!

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3. DON COSSACK enhanced his Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials in effortless fashion…

I doubt he was even out of 2nd gear to land his fifth Grade 1 contest in the JNwine Chase at Down Royal, in fact I think he had a mid-race nap before deciding to take care of business as they turned for home!

This latest victory means he is now eight from nine since moving out of the novice ranks, with his only defeat coming in last seasons Ryanair Chase, a race where he met significant trouble at a vital stage.

Since that Ryanair defeat ‘The Don’ has taken his form to a new level, a level that almost certainly marks him out as a serious Gold Cup contender.

On his last four starts he has posted RPR figures of 179-178-181-181.

Those are hefty figures, no doubt about that.

To put them into context…

Coneygree ran to a figure of 178 when winning last seasons Gold Cup.

Lord Windermere fired in a sub-par 168 when landing his Gold Cup.

Bobs Worth ran to a figure of 179 when winning the 2013 Gold Cup.

Kauto Star recorded figures of 185 & 175 when winning his two Gold Cups.

Denman recorded a figure of 184 when slamming his Gold Cup field.

Don Cossack is bang there with the last three Gold Cup winners and right on the coat-tails of Kauto Star and Denman’s Gold Cup winning performances.

No question Gordon Elliott has a horse capable of running to the level of form needed to win a Gold Cup, he just needs to keep the beast fit and well until March…

Is ‘The Don’ a Gold Cup winner in waiting?

Ben (NTF)

6 Comments

  • chris Parsons

    Reply Reply November 3, 2015

    You’re spot on as regards Dynaste, although he might be fine

    over 3 miles at Kempton, an easy non-stamina sapping track.

    He could be serious King George contender. However, Cheltenham

    is a different kettle of fish and the 2mile 5f there would

    be far more suitable.

    • Ben Aitken

      Reply Reply November 4, 2015

      Hi Chris

      I definitely think they should be aiming him at the Ryanair this term, he was so impressive when winning the 2014 version, would love to see him try an regain his crown.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  • Richard

    Reply Reply November 4, 2015

    I would drop Dynaste even more drastically in trip. For me he’s all about speed. I think Pipe has made a mistake with both Grand Crus and Dynaste in that sending them up to Haydock to win that 3m brush hurdle has sealed their future. But they both won that race because a) they were both very well handicapped and b) via speed in that they had their fields beat down the back straight on a track where speed counts despite soft ground being a constant during the winter. If both these horses were mine I’d be forcing the pace in soft ground 2m races.I also think this concept is a running theme with Pipe’s horses.

    • Ben Aitken

      Reply Reply November 5, 2015

      Hi Richard

      Interesting idea. Don’t think they need to be so drastic with him though, his blend of speed and stamina could well see him mop up the 2m4f/5f races.

      I suspect we will both be wrong anywat as they seem hell bent on gunning over the 3m trips.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  • Aaron

    Reply Reply November 6, 2015

    As regards plans for any pipe runner this has been the slowest start to a season I have witnessed from said yard from cappers to graded runners
    Either there not fully fit or there’s something up health wise in the yard IMO

    • Ben Aitken

      Reply Reply November 6, 2015

      Hi Aaron

      I agree the Pipe runners have been off to a slower than usual start.

      It ‘looks’ like a fitness thing as there are plenty coming there but not just quite seeing the race out.

      You would think/hope they pick up now we are in November…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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