The world at his hooves

Whoever had the foresight to name Rule The World must, at least secretly, be congratulating themselves.

You could only describe his performance in the Grade 2 Slaney Hurdle at Naas last Sunday as sensational.

I mean we can analyse this contest to death and try and find an explanation for what Mouse Morris’ charge did to high-class horses like Minsk and Champagne Fever.

We know Champagne Fever was subsequently found to be suffering from an infection, but I’ve a feeling that the bare form of the race may well be a true reflection of the talents of Rule The World.

The ground was very testing, but Champagne Fever and Minsk went along at a real gallop and it would have been no surprise if Rule The World failed to live with them in the closing stages.

He went into the contest as no more than a useful horse and his overall form simply didn’t look good enough.

Beating the somewhat frustrating Joncol and the modest Dushybeag at Navan previously wasn’t any reason to be getting too excited about him.

What was impressive about Rule The World, however, was that the more the race progressed the stronger he became.

To my eyes he didn’t shape like a winner for the first half of the contest, but his display through the last half was stunning.

He arrived doing half-speed early in the straight and to thrash Minsk by 16 lengths, without coming off the bridle, really had to be seen to be believed.

Rule The World is only a baby, with just four runs on the track under his belt. Accordingly, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if Mouse Morris and Gigginstown decided to swerve Cheltenham this year.

But if he does travel then it will be without another run and surely for the two miles and five Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle, rather than the three-mile Albert Bartlett.

Mouse’s policy of taking his horses to the festival relatively fresh has paid rich dividends over the last couple of seasons.

When War Of Attrition won the Gold Cup for him, he hadn’t run since chasing home Beef Or Salmon in the Lexus at Leopardstown at Christmas.

And for the last two years First Lieutenant has gone to Cheltenham on the back of outings at Christmas.

What did you make of Dermot Weld’s newcomer, Grecian Tiger, in that bumper at Naas on Sunday?

Odds against in the morning, he was backed throughout the day and there was no possibility of getting evens in the afternoon.

He touched around 9-10 on Betfair and then bundles came for him. It soon became a one-horse book, both on the machine and at the track, and Grecian Tiger was returned at 8-15.

He won alright, but his head carriage didn’t impress and was flat to the boards in the closing stages to hold a 25-1 shot by a length.

There were less than four lengths covering the first four home, so that immediately puts a major question mark against the form.

Perhaps we are being overly hard on Grecian Tiger and, with this run under his belt, and given better ground, then the horse that had clearly been burning up the gallops will show his true colours.

Here’s one who is not convinced, though, and will not be knocking anyone out of the way to get on next time.

Our Girl Salley is rapidly becoming a mare to avoid. She finished second for the fourth time at Naas and is no longer entitled to the benefit of the doubt.

Barry Geraghty produced her with perfect timing at the last, but Our Girl Salley’s inability to then cut down Charlie’s Vic, making her debut over fences, was basically unforgivable.

It will be most interesting to see how Marito’s head defeat of Mount Benbulben in a novice chase at Naas works out.

Mount Benbulben, who had essentially been disappointing since going over fences, seemed to benefit from Paul Carberry’s handling and maybe he is now ready to finally justify the massive promise shown earlier on over flights.

I’m told one well-known punter has stated he intends to tear out the pages of his form book that involve the four days at Limerick over Christmas, on the basis that the ground was so bad the form is going to prove totally unreliable.

You know he just might have a point. Three horses that ran badly at Limerick were Backinthere, Jennies Jewel and Thepartysover.

All three have made a quick reappearance and won. Oh dear, as if life wasn’t complicated enough.

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

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