It is with heavy heart that we say goodbye to the Jumps season 2016/17 with, at the time of writing, only the Punchestown Festival and Bet365 Chase Day to look forward to if you are a jumps enthusiast.
It therefore, might be sensible to look at a couple of flat horses who might pay their way this summer.
Weekend Offender – 4-year-old chestnut gelding trained by Kevin Ryan
There are any number of valuable 7f/Mile handicaps, which are likely to be targeted by the yard for this gelding who looked better than ever when finishing an unlucky third on his seasonal debut at Nottingham in April.
Slowly into stride, the horse was given plenty of time to find his feet and at the top of the home straight at Colwick Park he looked to be travelling very well, although he had a wall of horses to pass.
Jockey Tom Eaves had to sit and suffer and in the circumstances he ran a terrific race to finish third, giving the impression, he had plenty more to offer and that he was well ahead of his current mark of 89.
The bottom weight in last year’s Royal Hunt Cup was rated 97 and you would think that might be a considered a realistic target by the horse’s astute handler with York’s May meeting a possible stepping-stone.
By Lope De Vega the 4-y-old is effective on good and fast ground although he is unproven to date on ground with plenty of give. Do note, however that he is out of a Pivotal mare and should be able to handle some give if not genuine soft ground.
Next Stage – 4-year-old chestnut colt trained by Saeed Bin Suroor
If Weekend Offender might be a Hunt Cup horse, the same could be said of Next Stage who made a winning reappearance when winning a Mile Handicap at Newmarket last month.
Few horses impressed me more in defeat than the Godolphin runner when he finished runner up to Limitless at Doncaster last spring. The latter went on to win the Britannia Handicap at the Royal Meeting and is now plying his trade in Hong Kong.
Connections have suggested they will step the Dubawi colt up in trip at some stage during the season but at this stage of the campaign, he is another possible Hunt Cup contender.
After just four career starts he is open to considerable improvement although it should be noted that he bombed right out on soft ground at Salisbury last June.
I am convinced there is much more to come and believe he will be a Group horse by the end of the season and I would not be surprised to see him out in Meydan next year.
BetVictor were offering 8/1 about Frankel siring a classic winner earlier in the spring but that was cut to 5/1 after unbeaten Eminent’s fluent Craven Stakes success at HQ. I have been a big fan of Roger Charlton since Baron Ferdinand won the Magnet Cup at York all those years ago.
Fair Eva looked a potential star when winning the Gp 3 Princess Margaret Stakes by no less than four lengths at Ascot back in July. She was beaten in both subsequent starts and many feel she was just a very precocious early season juvenile – I’m not convinced.
Indeed I believe there is more to come from the filly who should prove effective over a mile although I don’t think she will get any further and I wouldn’t be surprised if 7f was her optimum trip this term.
Fair Eva was 16/1 for the first fillies’ classic of the season after her defeat in the Rockfel Stakes back in September but has been nibbled at in the market over the winter and is, at the time of writing, 10/1 with BetVictor for the 1000 Guineas.