I like Ahoy Senor an awful lot and have been trying to work out his problems. When he began jumping to his right, it was when he was too close to a fence and seemed an adjustment rather than an aberration. When he launches himself, not touching a twig, he’s a shade too far away from the best take off point. When he takes off from the correct point, he jumps superbly. There’s nothing wrong with his technique, he just seems to want his own way, and Derek Fox usually goes along with that. There are signs now that jumping right is becoming a habit more than a correction.
And yet, in his chase debut at Carlisle, he was close to copybook – arrow-straight at almost every fence (a touch right at first 2, but nothing you’d remark on) and jumping with high confidence. But that unseat two out when he was tiring had him doing some pretty severe stretching with his off fore trying to keep his balance. I wonder if that has stayed with him mentally, or something physical got tweaked that has never shown up in tests?
He moves his head and neck quite a lot, often carrying his head to the right. I’ve no idea what causes that, (my mind goes back to his Carlisle acrobatics and wonders) but he is surely using a fair bit of energy. Another calorie burner are the jumps to the right: they break rhythm and momentum.
Hindsight, I know, but I believe he would have won the Brown Advisory with a more aggressive ride. Leading from flagfall, he went right at the first 6. L’Homme Presse joined him on the outside at 7, the open ditch, where Ahoy Senor didn’t jump to his right, but was not fluent. He jumped 8 upsides, going straight. 9 & 10 he jumped straight, but after each, Fox took a pull. Going to 11, Fox moved out so L’Homme Presse was on his inside – and he jumped right there again.
Fox stayed on the outside all the way down the back, (no head on so cannot tell if he was going right) losing a length or so at 14, the open ditch. He was restrained all the way; perhaps Fox did not want him jumping upsides L’Homme Presse, or maybe he was trying to half-length him, but he was travelling very well until 3 out where he left his hind legs in the birch, costing him a place just as the taps were being turned on. From there he stayed on bravely, hanging left noticeably after the last.
He’s a stayer with no turn of foot. Had he been ridden from the off at 2m5f pace, I think he’d have had everything in trouble turning in. Instead he was held up for a significant part of the race, when what he needs is to have his races won before jumping the last.
His half brother Snuff Box won over 3m5f. From 3m2f to 3.3.5f his sire’s progeny record is 8 from 22 (UK&Ireland): a 36.3% strike rate. Stamina ought to be his forte.
Scu said after the Many Clouds that maybe they hadn’t been racing him enough, and he may well be spot on. Just 23 days after finishing second at the Festival, he ran away from everything at Aintree like a fresh horse.
On last season in general, I believe there’s an argument for him to have finished it unbeaten in completed races. Five weeks before the Festival he won the Towton easily, giving 5lbs to Noble Yeats and Ashdown Lad. Just before that, Fox played right into the hands of Bravemansgame in the Kauto Star with another very conservative ride. I doubt that running right handed there caused him any trouble, given his precision and exuberance at Carlisle. And his Newbury win was a treat to watch.
Derek Fox is a good jockey, but maybe Ahoy Senor would benefit from a new rider. I should add the caveat that maybe he has been riding to orders. Tom Scu comes to mind as a fine front-running jock; he has a good clock in his head.
Anyway, this is a top class horse. If he gets what he needs, before March, it would be folly to write him off as a Gold Cup contender. If his jumping continues to let him down, perhaps the Stayers Hurdle is the best option.
I heard his trainer Lucinda Russel talking about Ahoy Senor yesterday, and, reading between the lines, I think he will turn up in the King George. I might be wrong, but at around 5 times the price he ought to be if declared,I’m happy to chance a fiver at 50/1, and suggest you do the same.
My usual warning. Anything I put up as a tip here is for ‘fun money’ – stakes you can afford to lose almost without even thinking about it. There’s just as much fun to be had with small stakes.
Post race edit: Ahoy Senor finished 5th at 12/1
Profit/Loss to £5 stakes -£5
D Fox is a frustrating jock. As you say good but so often doesn’t seem to be at one with the horse. (I’m being polite?) I think with, as you say, Tom in the saddle, he would be in with a fine chance.
He is, at times. I see they are going to try headgear at home today with the intention of using it on Monday.
What an unexpected and welcome surprise to find this! It has all the features of a classic Joe McNally Steeplechasing post – a unique appreciation of a horse’s racing history. It is fascinating to read the detailed analytical observations, the ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses of Ahoy Senor.
The “what might have beens”, may be transformed into actualities with good fortune and a fair wind. It’s what I think makes ante posts unmissable “shots to nothing”.
Cheers Joe and good luck!
Very kind, Tom, thanks. It’s good to be back!