Horse Racing News – 31st October 2016

Spear Turns November Gold For Martin And Card Misses His Cue

The big flat race of the weekend came over in Ireland as Leopardstown played host to the TOTE November Handicap. In a race where the Irish host a formidable record, it once again proved impossible to wrest the prize away from the home team. It was the extremely talented, dual purpose handler, Tony Martin, who bagged the prize with his five year old Golden Spear this time.

As a son of the renowned speed influence Kyllachy, this one wouldn’t immediately leap out as contender for a major staying handicap, but Martin clearly saw something in him and has campaigned the gelding to good effect both on the flat and over hurdles. This was by some way the furthest he has won over on the level, but a victory in a two mile hurdle in pretty bottomless ground last September suggested that stamina was unlikely to prove an issue, and so it proved.

Travelling sweetly throughout, he always looked like coming out on top once asked to challenge and simply outstayed them all in the end. Having already shown ability over hurdles, Golden Spear looks just the type to be targeted at one of the Cheltenham Festival handicaps next year.

The horse to fill the second spot was Iain Jardine’s perennial bridesmaid, Nakeeta. The son of Sixties Icon hasn’t managed to win in 2016 but it certainly hasn’t been for a lack of trying. The admirably consistent five year old invariably gives his all and has now finished second in four of this seasons major staying handicaps. He wold be a most deserving winner of one of these in 2017.

National Hunt Season Up and Running

Meanwhile over the jumps, one of the real superstars from last season, and one of the most popular horses in training made his reappearance at Wetherby. Last season’s Betfair Chase, King George and Betfred Bowl hero, Cue Card, was widely expected to successfully defend his crown in the Charlie Hall Chase, and as the established class act in the field was sent off as the 8/11 jolly.

In the end, he could manage only third as both Irish Cavalier and the veteran Menorah swept by in the closing stages. This marked a career best effort for Irish Cavalier, who may yet make up into the smart staying chaser he has long promised to be. We wouldn’t be in a hurry to write off Cue Card however as he gave a good blow after this which suggests he may come on considerably for the run.

The major contests on the immediate horizon undoubtedly boast something of an international feel. First up is the Melbourne Cup in the early hours of Tuesday Morning before focus turns to the annual Breeders Cup jamboree at Santa Anita.

A strong European team containing the likes of Brave Anna, Boynton, Intelligence Cross, Found and Limato will be making the journey to take on California Chrome, Tepin and the rest of a strong home team. The action kicks off on Friday but it is the Saturday card which crams in most of the major contests and offers an evening of racing not to be missed.