Upgrade on the cards for Hang In There

Here at Stratford, we make no pretence that our races are some sort of trial for Cheltenham. Our summer fare sets up competitive racing for best in class chasers and hurdlers from March to November. And whilst we love staging high value races as much as the next man, we recognize that a vast majority of horses in training are of a class that doesn’t merit running at Grade I courses, and our calendar caters well for them.

That said, every so often comes along a horse you can see is destined for the top flight. And at the time, or in hindsight, those that attended can say knowledgably that they recognized that latent talent in a modest race at Stratford.

Enjoying his fourth consecutive novice chase victory in today’s events from Newton Abbot is exactly one such example. Regulars at Stratford last summer will have enjoyed seeing Hang In There win two competitive handicap hurdles for Marlborough trainer Emma Lavelle. This is the sort of horse about which a trainer describes any hurdle career as “a bonus”.

Hang In There and Tom Bellamy jump the last to win the Jonathan Walker Memorial Handicap Hurdle at Stratford. 11/7/2021 Pic Steve Davies

To date, it’s difficult to fault his chase career. A second place on debut back in May, he has won his next four races by an aggregate distance of 108l. Emma would be the first to acknowledge that small 3 and 4 runner fields have presented easy introductory opportunities, but the style of victory has already got the handicapper rating Hang In There on 148, with the season barely underway. There is little to suggest the eight year old son of Yeats will not improve the 10lbs or so required to be able to win a Grade I like the Marsh Chase next March.

Talking to the Racing Post, Lavelle commented,

“He’s a decent horse, he just wants nice ground, he’s probably better than what you’d describe as a summer jumper,” Lavelle added.

“He’s had a straightforward summer winning these novice chases and more than earned the right to have a crack at a better quality race round a proper jumping track. I’d say we’ll look at the Rising Stars at Wincanton [November 5] as his target race.”

Modest in the extreme, Lavelle is hiding her excitement well. Her gelding is better than that for sure, and she knows it. But managing the expectations of owners Tim Syder and Andrew Gemmell, as well as the hype merchants of the Press is key.

We’re unlikely to see Hang In There back here for a novice chase this season, and if his season develops as anticipated, not for some time until the handicapper anchors him and his rating falls, but you can at least say, “I saw him here first”. Meantime, register on this site to check out your ante-post odds for upcoming big races as the autumn season gathers momentum.

Stratford – home for nurturing talent. Remember it well.

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