There may have been only three runners in the 2m 5f novice chase at Ffos Las on Sunday, but it was a high-quality affair, contested by two Grade 1-winning hurdlers and another smart sort who had made a promising start over fences. If The Cap Fits had achieved the highest rating over hurdles and he proved far too good on his chasing debut, warming to his task encouragingly and winning by seven and a half lengths with plenty in hand.
He was sticky over the obstacles in the early stages but attacked his fences well later in the race and has all the tool to take high rank in the novice chase division. Runner-up Fiddlerontheroof – very much a chaser on looks – is also one to be positive about as he travelled well before a lack of fitness seemingly told. He is open to significant improvement.
Oxted caugh the eye in Champions Sprint
A strong gallop on testing ground at a stiff course ensured that there was a relative emphasis on fitness and stamina in the Champions Sprint Stakes. That suited the narrow winner Glen Shiel, who has form over further and has been kept busy this season, though it wouldn’t have played to the strengths of Oxted, who had been off the course since winning the July Cup.
Oxted, who had undergone a breathing operation since last seen, ran respectably to finish fifth, beaten little more than a length, but he shaped even better than the result would suggest. Oxted took it up two furlongs out and held every chance inside the final furlong, but he was unable to sustain his effort, either caught out by a lack of a recent run or ground softer than he had previously encountered. He remains relatively lightly raced and is likely to be a big player in the top six-furlong contests next year.
Draw bias had a big impact on the Balmoral
Njord was an authoritative winner of the Balmoral Handicap, providing Tom Marquand with a second winner on the afternoon following Addeybb’s victory in the Champion Stakes. It was a career-best effort from the progressive Njord and he should be up to making an impact in listed company, though the form in behind doesn’t look as strong as you would expect for such a valuable contest.
That is in part due to a draw bias which saw those racing in the far-side group (including Njord) at a significant advantage over those in the centre of the track. King Ottokar, in sixth, was the first home of those who initially raced towards the centre and he is up to defying his mark when the ground is testing, though it should be noted that he doesn’t look straightforward.
Raakib Alhawa was sent off at 125/1 after disappointing on his previous two starts this season but, having been gelded and dropped back to a mile, shaped well from the centre group, coming home three-quarters of a length behind King Ottokar. He too has the ability to make an impact from this sort of mark when everything falls right.
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