My Timeform: Three improvements to follow
Timeform has selected three likely improvements that have caught the eye over the past week of racing.
Fontaine Collonges (Timeform rating c124p) – Cheltenham, Friday December 10
This mare handicap hunt went off at a great gallop and some of the market leaders lost their chance by making mistakes, although both would have struggled with the Vienna court anyway, the winner settling things with an impressive acceleration on the run-in.
Fontaine Collonges dropped her favorites in fourth, but she is clearly better than she could show here, the stiffer fences holding her back as she made several jump errors along the way. Even when lost, her form received a little boost as Princess Eleanor, whom she had convincingly beaten at Warwick three weeks earlier, took second place again.
Still not exposed as a pursuer, Fontaine Collonges claims softer ground on this trip or a stage up to three miles. She remains open to further improvements with that in mind, so it might be worth giving her another chance under the right circumstances next time around.
Fabulous du Clos (Timeform rating h111p) – Carlisle, Sunday 12 December
The peloton of this novice hurdle ran in two separate groups, with a quartet led by favorite The Big Jetaway which far surpassed the others. The winner Moonlight Spirit was also in the top group, moving forward smoothly on the home turn and continuing well to land the three-length booty.
Outlining the best of the rest, however, Fabulous du Clos drew a lot of attention to his hurdling debut. After traveling well in the second wave of riders he came out of the field to place a clear fifth at the start of the straight and from there he stuck powerfully to move up three places. None of those he raced with managed to get seriously involved and his performance is worth noting under the circumstances, being simply left too much to do.
Fabulous du Clos has only shown modest form in four starts in the bumpers, but he looks certain to become a better hurdler judged on that effort. It was certainly a good place to start and he should improve further with the experience under his belt, especially with longer trips to explore.
Brief Times (Timeform rating h126p) – Wincanton, Tuesday 14 December
Brief Times lost his unbeaten hurdles record by winning second in his handicap debut at Wincanton on Tuesday, but he arguably put in his best effort to date going down a length to a promising guy.
Brief Times had been able to dictate his first hurdles starts at Exeter and Doncaster, but he didn’t have that luxury this time around and was seated in the middle of the division. It’s encouraging that he’s jumping straighter than before, and he’s come a long way when he was pushed into the straight to tackle the leader. In the end, he couldn’t revise Earth Company, but this rival had won well in his previous departure and had absolutely no exposure, so it’s likely that Brief Times ran into a well handicapped opponent.
The races around the minimum haul at Wincanton are as precise as they get, and Brief Times, a solid sort of race with a scoring background, can still cope better with a slightly stiffer test.