MELISSA JONES SAYS: Get ready for the jumpers

First published in Sport

IT’S that time of year again when the casual female racegoer is putting away her posh frock and dusting off the winter woolies.

By November, the flat season will be over for another year and the jumpers of a wholly different kind will be out to see.

That’s why this week I think it’s time to reflect on the summer flat action and look ahead with a couple of horses to follow over the next few months.

ON THE FLAT

Starspangledbanner: A failed stallion career seems to have written him off in many people’s form books.

But he came back to something like his old self running solid yardstick Maarek close in a Group Three last time out.

Would have picked them up and carried them in his heyday and trainer Aidan O’Brien has the pick of a number of backend targets.

Tariq Too: Outpaced in the Ayr Gold Cup, or given too much to do by his jockey, the choice is yours.

I noted him finishing the race off well, however, and another who should regain the winning thread, albeit over a slightly longer trip, before the season draws to a close.

Restraint of Trade: This one went into the notebook when all at sea on the undulations of Goodwood.

Could not get to grips with it and has hinted in ability in subsequent starts.

Godolphin are good at placing horses in handicaps, as shown by Darkening recently, and this two-year-old clearly has potential if found a suitable opening.

HURDLES AND FENCES

Finian’s Rainbow: Can be backed at around the 10-1 mark for the King George Chase at Christmas time.

Won the fast and furious two-mile championship race at Cheltenham to the delight of this column.

That course is the ultimate test and he beat a solid rival there in Sizing Europe, miles clear of the rest.

Nothing stands out in the three mile division and there is an opportunity to be had here ante-post.

Hidden Cyclone: Raring to go according to his trainer but found the imposing Sir Des Champs too good on his last start.

Lightly raced with just nine outings, the seven-year-old has untapped potential and plenty of it.

Can realistically only get better with the Hennessy Gold Cup an early season target.

Weapon’s Amnesty: Coming back this year after a long spell out through injury.

His first run could be a great pointer as to whether he has retained the ability.

If that is the case, must take high rank in the staying division as the form of his 2010 Sun Alliance Chase victory is strong – with the following year’s Gold Cup winner Long Run well beaten in third.

Our Father: Disappointed somewhat over hurdles last year, but chasing will be his game.

Whether it’s this year or next, should be followed when he takes to the bigger obstacles.

The hustle and bustle of big handicaps at Cheltenham and Aintree didn’t seem to suit and he should be much more at home in smaller, quality fields over fences on slower ground.

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