The embryonic 22/23 staying chase division continues to develop, and following Bravemansgame and Envoi Allen’s recent victories, Protektorat stamped his authority in the Betfair Lancashire Chase at Haydock, writes Martin Greenwood.
The 2021 winner and Cheltenham Gold Cup winner A Plus Tard was quite rightly all the rage to record back-to-back victories but dropped out tamely as though amiss in the home straight. Connections reported the horse was never travelling, and it is to be hoped that he recovers some sort of normality on his next run.
That left Protektorat to run the remaining rivals ragged, and he beat Eldorado Allen in a much more authoritative manner than Bravemansgame did at Wetherby.
Relatively unexposed as a chaser, particularly over staying trips, Protektorat posted a personal best a Haydock, albeit with the usual caveat that early-season form sometimes doesn’t work out quite as expected. I have settled on a new mark of 170, while accepting that this could be on the low side. That puts him level with Hewick in the staying division but still 10 lbs lower than A Plus Tard as things stand.
Top performances in GB chases 22-23 (up to 20/11/22) Hurdle round-up
Botox Has and Caolin Quinn winning The Betfair Exchange Stayes’ Handicap Hurdle
The absence of Constitution Hill robbed the Coral Ascot Hurdle of much of its interest but connections of Goshen won’t mind as the gelding quickly bounced back from a flop on his chasing debut to land a third straight win over hurdles. With runner-up Brewin’upastorm (down 3 lb to 152) finishing tired and likely not at his best, Goshen didn’t need to better his 2021 peak of 157.
The other notable performances in the hurdle division over the past week came in handicaps with big-race winners Botox Has (up 6 lb to 150) and I Like To Move It (up 10 lb to 152) both producing performances that suggest they could be up to mixing it at graded level in due course.
The novice division is clearly in its embryonic stages at such an early part of the core season but Paul Nicholls already looks to have a promising batch of new recruits, headed at this stage by Hermes Allen, who is rated 142 after his recent Grade 2 success over 21f at Cheltenham. The yard also landed the 2m listed race at Haydock last weekend courtesy of Tahmuras (134) who still looked a bit green but was ultimately far too good for smart chaser Sizing Pottsie and 3 other last-time-out winners.
Irish-trained Fennor Cross achieved a similar level to Tahmuras when landing the Grade 2 Supreme Trial at Cheltenham the previous weekend, outstaying his rivals up the hill after fellow Irish raider She Is Electric had probably gone a bit too quick for her own good up front (slow finish).