Racing review-heavy to swimming pool at Ffos Las

Over here in the good old United Kingdom, we are constantly aware that the Australian weather is that much better than ours (you keep reminding us), and I wonder if you have ever raced on the sort of going the horses had to put up with at Ffos Las on Saturday afternoon?

Heavy 5.5 was the official description and stick reading for what that is worth, though to the naked eye it seems fair to say it looked a fair deal slower than that with the “fastest” race on the card a mere 36 plus seconds slower than the average for the track. Sadly, that does mean we ought to take the pure form with a very large pinch of salt but that is not to say there were no noteworthy performances, as those who battled through the mud deserve at least a mention.

Paul Nicholls – worked miracles to get Silsol to carry top weight in that ground

Top of my hero list has to be the Paul Nicholls trained Silsol who defied top weight of eleven stone three to win the Welsh Champion Hurdle by five lengths. In all seriousness that weight should have stopped a train yet he stayed on resolutely under jockey Jack Sherwood whose seven-pound claim may have made all the difference. With about six weeks to Cheltenham I really hope he has time to recover and I admit, I looked instantly to see if he had any Festival entries (he hasn’t yet), and as he seems adaptable regarding the going (has won on good to soft, soft, and heavy), all things are possible, though that will all depend on how harsh the dreaded handicapper decides to be after this victory.

Those who like a war more than a horse race must have sat back and lapped up the three and a half mile (5632 meter) West Wales National which saw the major controversy of the afternoon as runner up Gorgehouse Lliege was virtually pulled up before going back to clamber over the last and gain the second place prize money of £8065. To say he was tired was an understatement which naturally caused a few protests but the fact is the vets have looked him over and he is fine – though I doubt he will want anything but box rest for a while after those excerptions. Winner Bob Ford won by 99 lengths amended to a distance, with the two of them the only finishers from ten starters (so who keeps the third and fourth prize money out of interest?), though whether they really ought to race in ground as bad as that (close to 90 seconds slower than average) is a question that ought to be answered by someone higher up than me in the racing World.

Nigel Twiston-Davis – must have high hopes for Bristol De Mai

Moving south to Sandown and better ground despite recent snow, and those wondering if French breds are the way forward only needed to look art the names of the winners for a clue. Winners Pain Au Chocolat, Garde La Victoire, Gitane Du Berlais, and Aigle De La See all herald from across the channel (though confusingly, Le Reve is Irish!), which part explains the rising prices forcing trainers to look elsewhere for the bargain buys. Of the ones named, I wasn’t overly impressed with any of them but the race taken by Garde La Victoire deserves more of a mention. Philip Hobbs’ six year old was officially the best horse in the race, yet those who backed him were well rewarded thanks to the 11/4 starting price as he saw off Jollyallan by half a length after a doing-dong battle that saw the lead change hands, yet it is third placed Bristol De Mai who I will be following in the long term. Only a relative baby at the age of four, he was a beaten favourite here and did receive weight from his elders who turned out to also be his betters, yet he looked as if Nigel Twiston-Davies had left a little to work on ahead of the Triumph Hurdle and back against his own age group, and after a little break, I may well be opening the wallet for a little each way at his current price of around the 20/1 mark (was 8/1) as it appear I am the only one who thinks this was not a bad trial against more experienced rivals.

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