I’ve been impressed by the talent and tenacity of Nicky Henderson’s Terrefort this season, the grey gelding’s first in the UK. He won at Huntingdon off a mark of 137, powering away after the last, his jockey not breaking sweat.
The BHA handicapper was impressed and lumped him up a stone, to the dismay of his trainer. The new rating was put to the test in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Chase at Sandown next time. In a cracking race, Terrefort jumped with accuracy and speed, the much bigger and stronger-looking Cyrname the only one who could go with him. Terrefort cleverly fiddled his way over two out after a sight misunderstanding with jockey Jacob, jumped the last well, and was always holding the rallying Cyrname.
The pair finished miles clear of the remainder – No Comment, Kalondra, and West Approach. Cyrname is the only one from that race to have run since, winning at Kempton at 2/5.
Terrefort improved a fair bit between Huntingdon and Kempton according to his jockey, and I think it’s reasonable to assume he’ll have improved further. The stats appear at first glance to be stacked against him as a potential winner of the JLT, but I’m not particularly concerned by that. There have been just seven runnings of the race which achieved Grade 1 status only in 2014.
Terrefort is a 5-y-o. All JLT winners have been 6 or 7, but a quick dig through the race’s short history shows that only four 5-y-olds have run in it and the only one of them who was rated around the same as Terrefort – Bristol De Mai – finished second. All seven winners have run at the previous year’s festival whereas Terrefort was still in his native France then. Six of the seven were trained in Ireland, but Nicky Henderson has a fine festival record and I have no worries on that score.
Terrefort comes into this with a rating higher than four of the past seven winners.
I’ve a slight concern that all four of Terrefort’s wins have been right-handed, but I can see nothing in his jumping or general demeanour to suggest he’ll be unsuited to going the other way. In fact, he looks agile and nimble and Cheltenham ought to suit his style well.
There’s a fair chance that soft ground is important to him and if he doesn’t look like getting it, Henderson might take him out. On that basis, I *strongly recommend backing him at 8/1 with Bet365, who offer best odds guaranteed and money back if he doesn’t run. I think he’ll be no bigger than 5/1 come the off next Thursday.
Good luck, and remember the lazybet motto: don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.
*For an explanation of ‘confidence terms used’, read this