WITH the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival now behind us and after the current period of post party blues, the thoughts of the racing world will turn shortly to Aintree and the Grand National meeting.
The performances of Sprinter Sacre and Big Bucks were my personal highlights from Cheltenham although I was left with the impression that a number of the other championship races lacked some depth.
The most notable example of this was the win of Synchronised in the Gold Cup.
A more determined and resolute racehorse you could not wish to find and he and AP McCoy made an ideal partnership.
However, in terms of class I think it is fair to say that Synchronised lacks that of a primed Kauto Star and it will be interesting to see how many more times he can reach as deep into his reserves to produce such gritty performances.
A race like the Gold Cup can finish a horse and Synchronised may get the opportunity to prove that is not the case with him at least in this season’s Grand National.
As the weights for the race have already been framed, Synchronised will be at an advantage in that he is able to race off of his handicap rating prior to his winning the Gold Cup.
Not many Gold Cup winners have a crack at the National and if Jonjo O’Neill does send him to Aintree it will really set the race up well.
The general demeanour of trainer Paul Nicholls toward the end of the Festival week gave the impression that he was a little disappointed with his weeks work.
He did train the Champion Hurdle and Stayers Hurdle winners which in themselves would have satisfied many, but even that could not raise his gloom after the disappointment of Kauto Star pulling up in the Gold Cup.
Connections have not ruled out the possibility of Kauto Star returning to the track but what purpose would it serve?
Hopefully, a period of reflection will ensue and if racing on is still the consensus then so be it but it is difficult to imagine what the horse can hope to add to his impressive record.
Rock On Ruby won Nicholls his first Champion Hurdle and its difficult to get a real handle on the strength of the form.
The performance of Hurricane Fly in the race was very disappointing and though nothing has come to light it would be a little surprising if he had shown his full capability.
Nevertheless, Rock On Ruby was decisive in his victory and the potential rematch in Punchestown is enthralling.
Nicky Henderson was the trainer of the Cheltenham Festival without question and Finians Rainbow winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase was his marquee win although many will feel that the success of Sprinter Sacre was the highlight of his wins if not the whole meeting.
The ease with which Sprinter Sacre dismantled his field and the manner in which he travelled and jumped, strongly suggested to me the emergence of a new star in the National Hunt world.
Quite rightly, this opinion was widely held.
After missing the Cheltenham Festival, Orzare from the local Sussex yard of Gary Moore has an entry today at Newbury and having disappointed on his most recent start, many will be looking forward to a return to form for this promising young hurdler.
Swift Lord is another Moore inmate who has returned from a spell on the sidelines and he also has an entry this weekend.
Both individuals have the potential to be highly competitive off of their current marks and will bear study over the back end of this jumps’ season.