The Nigel Twiston-Davies trained Wholestone made his chasing debut at Perth this week and it was a successful one. The eight-year-old stayer came home all alone in the race. The race ultimately started with just two runners, which begs quite a few questions on it’s own.
However, even then, his only opposition, Ballyhome, pulled up under jockey Paddy Brennan. Despite being the only finisher, it was a nice round of jumping from Wholestone, and he looks capable of mixing it at a much higher level.
He was slick throughout and if there is a complaint then he did move off slightly to the left when jumping. Although this is something that he has been kept away from until now. This was only his second-ever run on a right-handed circuit and he is better going left-handed. So a move back to running on a left-handed track would stop him from moving out, and keep him straighter.
There was talk of him going chasing last season but instead, connections stuck to running him in graded hurdle races. He won a Class 2 hurdle on reappearance last season but when upped to Grade Two and Grade One company he was unable to get his head in front.
This is likely to have been part of the discussions when deciding whether to send him chasing this season or not. He is unlikely to have many good opportunities to win over hurdles as he is rated too high for handicaps, and is just short of being able to win in graded company. He is a lively outsider for those type of races and would be in the mix, but isn’t capable of winning them on a regular basis.
However, going chasing gives the yard options about where to run him. For example, if they want to get another win under his belt he can remain in novice company with a penalty. He will no doubt be sent off as a short-priced favourite for a race of that nature at a smaller track.
Alternatively, he could be sent to a top track for a big money novice chase, or wait for one of the graded novice races to come around and try his luck in that.
Wholestone is a horse that has run with credit and consistency over hurdles in graded company for the past couple of seasons. However, he is just short of being a real threat in those races. He runs well but wins are hard to come but a move to chasing is something he has taken in his stride. He jumped really well at Perth, under jockey Daryl Jacob, on a track that doesn’t suit his style, so whatever we saw I think it is fair to say he will improve on.
He looks a horse worth following this season, and it would be no surprise to see him turn up at the likes of Cheltenham and Aintree at the end of the season next Spring. Until then chasing looks like the direction he will go in. He is entered into the Novices’ Chase (Listed Race) at Chepstow on October 12th which will hopefully give him another chance to shine. This time among a few more runners!