RSA runner-up Whisper started his new season with a win in the Weatherbys General Stud Book Online Graduation Chase at Kempton today. Jumping’s the name of the game and is the factor I always pay close attention to. I hadn’t noticed before and will check back, but Whisper’s jumping style today was rather flat-planed. He never really looks iffy but doesn’t flex as fully as you’d like and he showed a tendency to get in close. His rider Davy Russell is a fine jock and is not the type to be fussing and organising a horse at his fences. He seemed happy that his mount would do most of the stride-seeing on his own and pretty much left him to it. Horses who jump in that flattish manner can sometimes land almost on all fours and Whisper did that a couple of times.
He raced upsides his only rival Clan Des Obeaux almost throughout and despite that horse never really settling, he made Whisper look flat footed in the conventional way when he began coming away from him three out. Russell got busy then but had the advantage of knowing the deep stamina resources available beneath him and never reached the panicky stage. When Whisper had clanked through his gears to find top, he made up the deficit and went past without histrionics to earn a 16/1 quote from one bookie for the King George. Had he jumped cleanly, maybe 20/1 would have made some each way appeal but 16s is a touch short. Contrary to the perception of quite a few, the King George can be a serious stamina test; brutal would be an exaggeration but it can take an awful lot of getting in the usual softish ground off a strong pace. It was good going last year for the first time since 2008 (and ironically, the pace wasn’t that hot).
Like his stablemate Might Bite yesterday, Whisper will strip fitter next time. He’s probably a few pounds below what would be needed to win one of the big Grade Ones but if they could improve his jumping style he’d have a fine chance in a Grand National. He reportedly goes next to the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury (the Hennessy Gold Cup as was) where his 4lbs penalty for today (which seemed to surprise trainer Henderson who obviously hadn’t done his homework on the race conditions) takes his weight to 11st 8lb. He’d need to jump much better there and Russell, post race today, said he expects his fencing to improve for a better pace which he will almost certainly get at Newbury. At 12/1 I could be tempted.