Sportsman Racing: Roque Threat To Long Run Double

In this regular Monday segment, racing expert Scott Armstrong rounds up all the action of note from this weekend’s racing for SBC Blog readers.

The flat season wound up with the International Breeders Cup proving very difficult to fathom with the Breeders Cup Mile won by the rag Court Vision at 66-1. Worry not as the jumping sphere takes over now and I’m like a kid at Christmas with the big guns starting to emerge from hibernation.

On Saturday Quito De La Roque laid down a threat to Long Run’s Gold Cup double aspirations with a gutsy one-and-a-quarter length triumph over Sizing Europe in the Down Royal Champion Chase.

Bostons Angel and Quito De La Roque – two of the most successful staying novice chasers in Ireland met in the Grade 1 Fort Leney Novices’ Chase at Leopardstown last December with honours going to Bostons Angel. The form of the whole season however suggests Quito De La Roque is the superior horse. Having thrashed Bostons Angel over hurdles in 2009/10 Quito De La Roque made a jumping error at the second last in the Fort Leney but unperturbed he stayed on strongly to lose by only three-quarters of a length. If Quito De La Roque had run in the RSA Chase last season I think he may have won it and it should pay to follow this strong stayer over the coming months. The Gold Cup where Quite De La Roque has been cut to 20-1 looks to be tilting at windmills in terms of troubling Long Run but if connections set their sights lower he can put up a bold show at the Festival.

In the UK, Paul Nicholls’ yard had not quite been firing, however that all changed on Guy Fawkes day where Nicholls saddled seven winners in Britain and Ireland in the space of two-hours.

Silviniaco Conti from the Ditcheat yard was comprehensively beaten on his chase debut by the impressive Cue Card. Silviniaco Conti left that run behind when landing the Grade 2 Rising Stars Novice Chase at Wincanton by 25 lengths. The faster pace of the race was key here as he left decent opposition trailing in his wake and the Feltham on Boxing Day looks a realistic target.

At Down Royal a familiar sounding name was creating his own press. Kauto Stone the half-brother to the great Kauto Star clattered the last fence but his impressive stamina had already secured this Grade 2 Chase and earn the youngster quotes of 16-1 for the Ryanair Chase. A Grade 1 winner in France he rates an exciting prospect.

The dogs were barking for Molotof from the Nicky Henderson yard and his backers never had a moments worry as he impressively landed the 2m novice hurdle. The tall ex-French gelding put up a decent performance in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and it will be interesting to see whether connections now take the chasing route.

The Minack won the Listed Class 1 at Wincanton and illustrated his preference for a right handed track. A gutsy performer he can plunder more chases in the coming season.

Rowdy Rocher won a Class 4 Novice Hurdle that held a couple of nice prospects in the field. Impressing at home the Lucinda Russell yard’s five-year-old gelding’s had stamina to burn as he and the Donald McCain trained Tarlan pulled 12 lengths away from the rest of the field and Rowdy Rocher can repeat his winning performance if quickly returned to the track under a penalty.

Another of Scott’s highlighted horses – Sirius Prospect won at 9/2 on Saturday, and was the only selection from his weekly list to follow which ran last week. You can pick-up all of his Horses to Follow selections sent via email each Monday by purchasing the Smart Betting Club Winter Annual. Click here to purchase