Tough Test for Raiders of the East

Some great racing this weekend, all around the world. Willie Mullins, in particular, had a very successful day. At Navan he sent out a force that would win over half the races on the card. Three of the four victories included specialist, Ruby Walsh. A day for the punter as short priced favourites stole the show, each rightfully so. Time & time again, a Mullins recruit crossed the line first. Over at Aintree, Mullins squeezed another. Paul Townend saw out victory on Gitane Du Berlais & did so with ease. Mystery Drama was ridden hard by Wayne Hutchinson to rally a challenge, but to no avail as Townend finished with time to spare. He had positive words to say of Gitane Du Berlais. "The long straight here suited her & her experience stood her in good stead. She jumped well & is a nice, big filly with plenty of scope. Her run in the north (Down Royal) wasn't bad as the first two have come out & done well since."

Almost 6000 miles across the world, Twenty eight challengers turned out from overseas to compete at Sha Tin, & did not disappoint. The Europeans main threats came in the form of The Fugue, Moonlight Cloud & Sky Lantern. From the anticipated three, only The Fugue made the frame, beaten by local runner Dominant. All failing to make the expected impression on the east, formidable opponents beat the raiders again & again. You can't help but question how well a horse handles the burdensome task of a long-haul flight, change over's & the ins and outs of the journey? No doubt some handle it better than others. Trainer of The Fugue, John Gosden said of The Fugue's condition "She has picked up well. It was a long journey – from London to Frankfurt, where she was on the ground for a time, before coming on to Hong Kong." "To that extent, she was a little quiet when she got here. Her temperature was good & her blood was good, which is important – she was just a little tired & quiet & not eating particularly well." No doubt the key to overseas success lies in race day conditioning. Pressure on those connected to get a quick turnaround if a horse is not at its best, & you'll need a real toughie to travel to the east & crack it


Ciaran Judge

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February 2018
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