THE Big Dog (150+) won his second high-profile staying chase in his last two runs as he added the Troytown to his winning profile, staying on strongly to overhaul the consistent on the clock front-runner, Lifetime Ambition (148).

Trainer Peter Fahey nominated the Grand National as a long-term target for his nine-year-old gelding and suggested an interrupted campaign last season has yielded his lucrative handicap mark.

There is no doubt the son of Mahler will stay the extreme distance of the Aintree showpiece and rate higher because of the extra distance as he stays so strongly. Expect a traditional preparation over hurdles between now and April.

The beginners’ chase which followed the feature contest saw the chase debut of highly-rated hurdlers Fil Dor (152+) and Saint Roi (148+) and, although the time figure was slower when adjusted for distance, they were significantly quicker through the closing stages.

The relevant data from the last in the back straight being 101.8secs for Gordon Elliott’s novice and 104.9secs for The Big Dog.

American Mike (120) was fully expected to take another step towards contesting a Grade 1 over hurdles when contesting the Grade 3 Monksfield Hurdle. However, after jousting with Affordale Fury at a strong pace for most of the contest the Bective Stud-owned gelding was unable to raise another effort when challenged late by Dawn Rising (126).


The time figure was the strongest of the day over hurdles, although the closing sectional of 105.3secs detracts from the performance of the winner as he was slowest of all the hurdle race winners from the last hurdle in the back straight.

Comfort Zone (118+) posted the fastest finish as he covered the same ground in 100.1secs, easily accounting for his field in the opening juvenile hurdle.

The closing effort gains further credibility when considering Joseph O’Brien’s three-year-old was quicker overall when adjusted for distance than Grangeclare West (116+) who stopped the clock for his sectional at 100.5secs.

The final mention for this week is for The Goffer (130+) whose second sortie over fences yielded victory at Thurles on Thursday. There was little to divide the two chases on the card on the overall times, although the final circuit saw Gordon Elliott’s novice chaser to be much quicker than his stablemate Arctic Ambition (126) as he covered the ground 4.3secs faster, with the bulk of the difference achieved in the closing stages.


of the week

Frere D’Armes (153+), Newbury, Friday, November 25th – proved strongest at the finish in a novice chase where the first five home can all be followed.

Filey Bay (139+), Doncaster, Saturday, November 26th – quickened smartly to win on handicap debut and can progress through the handicap ranks.

Bass Rock (141+), Carlisle, Sunday, November 27th – jumped like an experienced chaser on debut and quickened clear to win decisively in a fast time.