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Charlie McCann: Notebook Additions From The Weekend


Later in the week we will turn our attention to the handicaps at this month’s Cheltenham Festival, but I want to highlight three horses from the last seven days who may be worth following going forward.

Beakstown 9-year-old with Dan Skelton circa 2m4f on good ground

Beakstown carried my cash at Kempton in the 3m Coral Chase last weekend and was beaten over 20L, but that doesn’t tell the whole story and I will be disappointed if we don’t recoup our losses between now and the end of the season.

Trainer Dan Skelton was interviewed about the prospects of his horse (20s into 14s pre-race) on Racing TV, and he suggested he didn’t like being crowded but he thought he was ready for a step up to three miles. Dan and I were both wrong; he doesn’t stay 3m, but he jumped and travelled like the best handicapped horse in the field for much of the race having been asked to race wide and cover ground for two of the three miles.

I don’t know short he traded in the run, but he led coming to three out – which he clouted – and the petrol gauge quickly went to red.

The selection remains a maiden after nine starts over fences which seems ludicrous when you consider how well he jumps, but he will be dropped at least a couple of pounds from his current rating of 130 for his next start.

There is a valuable Cheltenham handicap over two-and-a-half miles at their two-day April meeting which is invariably run on good ground with a single figure field. That would be the race I would target this spring although I appreciate the owners have entered their horse in two handicaps at the Festival later in the month. With Ayr and Aintree also on the horizon it is unlikely that Beakstown will be kept back for the Silver Trophy, but I am sure there is a nice pot to be won with the horse in the spring.

King Of Time 3-y-old gelding trained by Charlie Appleby

King Of Time is a gelded son of Kingman who readily picked up a previous winner at Lingfield on Saturday on his racecourse debut and I believe he will make up into at least a decent handicapper over 8-10f for a yard with a plethora of potentially top-class three-year-olds for the flat turf season.

Godolphin work rider Robert Winston had a rare ride for the yard on the horse’s debut and he looked in trouble at the top of the straight as he was forced to sit and suffer and then pull out wide before making his move. I was impressed with his change of gear under hands and heels although I appreciate the winning time was slow and the runner up – who cost just 3.5k guineas as a yearling – was conceding 7lbs for winning at Southwell on debut.

Winston suggested post race that he thought the gelding would get further in time, but he expected him to stay at a mile in the short term. He is a half-brother to Ed Walker’s former Royal Ascot winner Agrotera, and I wonder if the Boys in Blue will consider that 3-y-old mile handicap as a possible mid-season target.

Coupdebol 7-y-old gelding trained by Tom George   

The heavy ground had turned against Ambion Hill, who finished third in an informative two-and-half mile novices’ handicap chase at Warwick on Friday, and the well supported runner up Daronova jumped poorly, but I was impressed with the success of the Coupdebol, and I feel he will have more to offer from his revised mark.

The grey only raced three times over hurdles but looked an improved performer on his chase debut when he finished a closed third at Leicester – nibbled at in the betting – over 2m 4f on good ground when he gave every indication he would appreciate a stiffer test of stamina.

As it was Coupdebol shrugged off a bad mistake on the second circuit at Warwick but galloped on relentlessly on the heavy ground. The grey will get three miles in time but granted soft or heavy ground, he is likely to kept to intermediate trips, at least in the short term.

I would not consider Tom George a trainer whose string you can rely on to give their running, but they there are surely more races to be won with Cupeño who will be rated about 110-12 after the handicapper has had his say for Warwick.

I know I might be accused of following horses over a cliff, but I have not yet given up on Amnion Hill who needs better ground. He was beaten 15L in the midlands from a mark of 100, but he jumped superbly until his stamina gave way. He will surely be capable of defying his new mark – likely to be around 98 – this spring for Colin Tizzard.