Eyecatchers and horses to follow October 2019
Sebastopol – Wincanton Thursday 17th October 2019
With an official handicap rating of 127, there was good reason beforehand to think that Sebastopol was on a winning mark going into this race and a horse to follow. With just 3 runs to date under rules, it proved to be the case as he ran out an easy winner of this Class 3 Wincanton handicap hurdle.
The reason to believe he was on a winning mark was his 4th behind Thomas Darby at Cheltenham in October last year.
At the time the race stood out having produced a decent time figure. Initially, I would say the form was underestimated in the subsequent races betting markets. But, by the time the 2018/19 National Hunt season had come to a close, it had been well and truly franked.
Thomas Darby went on to finish second in the Supreme Novices at the Cheltenham Festival behind Klassical Dream. Elixir De Nutz won his 3 subsequent outings. This included the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park in January.
Hindsight is easy, but an official handicap mark of 127, as Sebastopol demonstrated in winning at Wincanton underestimated his ability.
At this point, I’d say it is well worth checking out the form of the Cheltenham race Sebastopol finished 4th in. The bird has already flown with Some Day Soon who racked up 4 wins on the bounce over the summer and Amoola Gold winning on his next outing at 11/1.
I am interested in Bang On Frankie who finished ahead of Sebastopol in the Cheltenham race. He retains his novice status coming into this National Hunt season. Bang On Frankie has an official handicap mark of 130, should connections chose to go down the handicap route I’d expect him capable of winning of this mark and higher.
Sebastopol at Wincanton
Back to Sebastopol and the Wincanton performance. Beforehand it looked a competitive event, with several progressive and in form horses in competition. In the race itself, they went a decent pace from the offset and I believe the outcome gave a true reflection of the participant’s ability at this current point in time.
Sebastopol missed the start by a couple of lengths, consequently, his performance here can be marked up a couple of pounds. Throughout the race, he always travelled sweetly and he made up ground impressively on the leader Grey Diamond in the straight. In the end he won by a very comfortable 7 lengths.
As you would expect, he’ll get a fairly hefty hike in the official handicap ratings for this performance. I’d be thinking around 10 lbs would be fair, but we’ll see how the official handicapper views things.
I wouldn’t be overly concerned about a rise in that region. Given Sebastopol is lightly raced, this was his 4th competitive race today, he has ample scope to improve further.
Tom Lacey post race comments
Listening to his trainer Tom Lacey’s comments further endorsed these thoughts. When asked about his handicap mark he said.
“I thought it was a fair mark in all fairness, probably a very good mark.”
And when asked his view on how the season develops.
“We’ve always held him in very high regard, so we’d like to think he could potentially be graded quality and have a go at one of those later on. But he’s inexperienced, he’s lightly raced. In time Nico (De Boinville) says you’re going to have a 3 miler, but he’s won over 2 miles and in a particularly fast run 2-mile race he’ll be fine. Otherwise, we know he’ll get 2 ½ miles and ultimately 3 miles in time” – Tom Lacey, Trainer
Taking on board Tom Lacey’s comments about the trip, it looks as if a step up in trip in the future is likely and this could bring about further improvement. It will be interesting to see if connections venture down the novice route where they would undoubtedly be able to pick up a few races or aim a bit higher.
For the short term future, races like the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham or the Listed Gerry Fielden Hurdle at Newbury’s big Ladbrokes Trophy meeting (formerly known as the Hennesey) might appeal.
Whichever route, I’ll be looking forward to seeing Sebastopol run and keen to see if he can take another step forward in his performance.