He was a long way removed from being the most impressive winner at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown last weekend, but there was something about Willie Mullins’ Klassical Dream that indicated you underestimate him going forward at your peril, writesil.
The five-year-old scrambled to a head success over stable companion, Aramon, in a Grade 1 novice hurdle on Sunday, and the bare form would hardly have him high up on the list of must-back Cheltenham candidates.
But when a horse repeatedly ignores what the form book tells us, and has an attitude as good as his then he is, at worst, worthy of respect.
Klassical Dream had seven runs in France, more about that in a second, prior to returning to action for Mullins, following a break of thirteen months, in a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown at Christmas.
In a 20-runner affair, he went off a 5-2 chance and won in good style by a length and three parts from Entoucas and Dancing On My Own, with the 7-4 favourite, Vision D’Honneur just under six lengths fourth.
All three of his immediate victims were in last Sunday’s contest. Wherever Klassical Dream finished, none of them should have been too far away.
Klassical Dream beat Aramon a head, with Vision D’Honneur doing best of the rest, a further six lengths away in third.
You could argue that was exactly the same as at Christmas, but Vision D’Honneur went on to win his maiden in a canter at Punchestown and the fact could not then close the gap on Klassical Dream was significant.
Dancing On My Own, beaten four and a quarter lengths at Christmas, was now seven and a half lengths adrift in fourth, while Entoucas ran no race at all, finishing a remote sixth.
Basically then, Klassical Dream showed lots of improvement from Christmas and this week was 8-1 second favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham.
That is some leap forward from what he had to offer when trained in France. Even those of us with a very limited knowledge of the French form book can work out he was no star in his native country.
He ran there seven times as a three-year-old, winning just once. His final two outings were at Auteuil, he pulled up in his last race and before that was a well beaten fourth of ten in a Grade 1.
His third last run in France, however, also at Auteuil, is the one that allows us to get the best handle on how long a road it was for him to even be considered as a possible Cheltenham horse.
In a conditions hurdle, he was beaten a length into second by a horse called Rock De Baune. That was the last time Rock De Baune ran in France and he is now in Ireland, in the care of John Kiely, owned by J P McManus, and has run six times.
The closest he has come to winning a race was finishing fifth on two occasions. He currently sits on a mark of 121 and that is the rating of a moderate horse.
In the meantime, Klassical Dream will head to Cheltenham with all guns blazing and it is a measure of how quickly he is improving.
He is no Cheltenham banker, or anything like that, but battled on powerfully on Sunday and seems sure to relish the Cheltenham hill. Connections are adamant he will be better again on soft ground and we will have to give him due consideration nearer festival time.
THERE I was convinced Michael O’Leary would give all those clamouring on television, the written press and the public at large the two fingers, but he caved in faster than the despicable Trump.
Yes, it looks as if the remarkable Apple’s Jade will now be aimed at the Champion Hurdle, after the Gigginstown House Stud entourage had a massive change of mind, in the wake of the mare’s demolition job on five rivals in Saturday’s Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
There is no denying Apple’s Jade was brilliant, over a trip well short of her best - two miles - and travelling left-handed, when we know she is better going in the opposite direction. Indeed, her usual tendency to jump to her right was a lot less pronounced, which was most encouraging.
But, in beating Supasundae by 16 lengths into second, did she actually achieve anything that could be regarded as overly surprising?
Supasundae is essentially regarded as a stayer, it’s just that he is nowhere near as good as Apple’s Jade. Twice before Saturday she kicked him out of the way, over two and a half miles, and is simply much better and faster than him.
The third on Saturday, Petit Mouchoir, has become unreliable and the fourth, Melon, is an enigma and continues to go nowhere fast.
For me Laurina - she was 9-2 this week - remains the each-way value of the race. The dual champion, Buveur D’Air, is the other to consider, obviously, and this shapes as the biggest three-hand reel of all time.
We have only seen Laurina once this campaign, in that two-horse romp at Sandown, but it seems she is now set to turn up in the two and a half mile Quevega Mares’ Hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday, February 20 and that would be a help.
LE Richebourg did us proud at Leopardstown on Saturday, taking the Grade 1 Arkle Novice Chase with lots in hand, and if ever a horse was born to jump fences it is him.
All the most recent evidence tells us he was wasting his time over flights and there was never any great indication, when he was at the game, that he might be transformed by the more demanding discipline.
That, however, is exactly what has happened. He is now three from four as a chaser, meeting his only defeat when going down by half a length to Delta Work in the two and a half mile Drinmore at Fairyhouse. Two miles and a furlong, or two miles, is surely his ideal trip.
As a hurdler he reached a perfectly respectable mark of 140, but is different gravy over fences. This week he went up 5lbs for winning the Arkle by seven lengths and is now rated 159.
RACING TV finally got its act together for the two days at Leopardstown and there wasn’t much to criticise regarding its coverage.
They played a real big card, though, in sending Nick Luck across the Irish Sea and he was simply superb. Luck didn’t miss a trick and he just about interviewed everyone from whom you wanted to hear. He asks a question which is always on the money, listens to the response and then moves the chat along at pace. He’s intelligent, a top man.