The first two finishers in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase turned in great performances. From a long way out, Total Recall and Whisper were the pair who looked to be travelling the best, and they duly pulled well clear.
Paul Townend gave Total Recall a great ride – he jumped okay early in the race, before the jockey got him settled and into a rhythm at just the right time. He stayed really well: the last fifty yards were probably his most impressive fifty yards.
Meanwhile, Whisper ran an absolute blinder, with a huge weight on his back against a well handicapped horse.
He travelled and jumped a lot better than I believed he would – before the race, I thought he’d struggle to go with the pace early on and only creep into it late on. But he moved well throughout. He got a hefty penalty for it and is entitled to take his place in the Grade 1 races for the rest of the season.
I don’t know where Total Recall is going to go next. Christmas may come too soon for him – as for Whisper – so I’d imagine he’ll go somewhere in the new year, perhaps in January. Willie Mullins is talking about him as an Grand National horse – his 156 handicap mark will be very near the top of the National. It’s either that or stepping into Grade 1 company. How he goes over the next three to four weeks will determine that.
In some ways, Buveur Dair had nothing to gain at Newcastle in the Fighting Fifth. You would have thought he could only do his reputation harm. Yet he somehow managed to do exactly the opposite. He was a dead cert based on his price, and that’s the way he travelled and won. You couldn’t help but be impressed with him, especially the ease with which he earned victory. He did it with gusto.
I thought he looked excellent, and you’d have to respect him. He will improve, and is still very young.
Of the Grade 1 winners, Apple’s Jade was the one that I thought looked nearly unbeatable. I imagine she’ll drop back into Mares’ company, and she’s going to be unbelievably hard to beat. She looks stronger and better this year, as she should. It will be very surprising if she’s defeated between now and Punchestown – it’ll take another Annie Power to take her on.
Espoir D’allen was also excellent in a race that wasn’t run to suit him. He has some jumping pedigree, and in a slowly run outing, he was much the better horse. He’ll look even stronger in a better-run race.