Racing UK

Three For Free: Bishop can lord it over rivals

(You can read Oli Bell's Three For Free column every Monday at

We had to wait a while but on Saturday we saw the first of the #threeforfree horses line up after being highlighted in this column.

It was Veauce De Sivola, trained by Nick Williams, who went to Haydock hoping to build on a promising debut in second.

It was a dreadful anti-climax.

At this juncture I would like to draw your attention to a line from English poet Christina Rossetti’s sonnet entitled: ‘Remember’. 

“Better by far you should forget and smile, than that you should remember and be sad”

Good. As we are all smiling again here is this week’s threeforfree column. Remember you can highlight any good horses you have seen in the past week in the comments section below, or on Twitter to @Racing_uk using the #threeforfree hashtag. We look forward to hearing from you.

Bishops Gate – Third on February 12, Ayr: BetVictor Welsh Open Final Frame Insurance Maiden Hurdle

(To watch a replay of the race click here)

I don’t think Bishops Gate is a star, far from it, but on the evidence of his debut run under rules there is a race to be won with him.

Bishops Gate was held up and made smooth headway to latch onto the leaders turning for home. He wasn’t given a hard time when it became clear his position of third could not be improved upon and he did get tired late on as his messy jump at the last revealed.

He was beaten 10 lengths at the line. Previously he had finished second in a couple of Point-To-Points but that was two years ago so he will come on considerably for this run.

To put his run into context, the winner Deepsand was rated 82 on the Flat and finished five lengths second on his previous start behind John Quinn’s Hidden Justice. Hidden Justice beat Only Orseanfoolsies by 15 lengths at Wetherby earlier this season and on Saturday we saw a good win for Only Orseanfoolsies at Haydock.

Bishops Gate will be a more attractive proposition when in handicap company. His nemesis on debut Deepsand has been given a rating of 116. It may mean waiting a couple of starts before going to the well, but that well may well treat you well, if you know what I mean!

Another Mattie – Third, February 13, Musselburgh: 32Red Poker Standard Open NH Flat Race

(Click here to watch a full replay of the race)

It was the last race on the card at Musselburgh and it is the final half-mile of this two-mile contest that needs particular focus. Nick Alexander’s Another Mattie appeared to be heading for a rather drab mid-division finish at best on his UK debut until he finished with a wet sail to grab third.

He started his career in Ireland winning a Point-To-Point over three miles before finishing fifth in two bumpers over 2m and 2m 3f.

His run at Musselburgh was that of a horse crying out for a trip. He has the stamp of a horse who will jump a fence and his future certainly lies over obstacles. It is over fences where he will be seen at his best and for that reason he is a horse to follow as a long-term project.

His point-to-point win stacks up pretty well. He beat Boardwalk Empire by two lengths that day and that horse finished second by one and a half in a PTP behind Mr Watson the following start.

Mr Watson is now a 139-rated hurdler trained by Jonjo O’Neill, having won a competitive Cheltenham handicap off 127.

He was a relatively cheap purchase for connections who picked him up for £7,500. He showed enough at Musselburgh to think that there will be a return on the investment.

Nagpur - seventh, Saturday 16th, Haydock: Pertemps Handicap Hurdle

(Click here for a full replay of the race)

Having his first start since May the Venetia Williams-trained Nagpur finished a well-beaten seventh but his run was better than the finishing position suggests.

He travelled really well for much of the way and jumped the last in third only to tire at the end.

There are two ways of assessing this. Either the seven-year-old was having his first start for nearly a year and was entitled to get tired late on, or he didn’t see out the trip of three miles in testing conditions.

I take the view that three miles on heavy ground stretches this horse. He has three wins to his name in the UK over trips ranging from 2m3f to 2m5f. One of those wins (over 2m 5f) saw him beat Saturday’s Ascot winner Kuilsriver by three lengths giving him 12lbs at Plumpton last April. The visual impression created that day was that he would appreciate three miles but looking at his record over the further trip I’m yet to be convinced. 

Including one start in France over three miles, he has tried the trip four times and been beaten a total of 105 lengths. Admittedly, one of those starts came in the Grade 1 John Smith’s Sefton Novices Hurdle in which he was ninth, beaten 50 lengths behind Alan King’s Lovcen.

Nagpur ran at the Festival last year and, although well beaten, was by no means disgraced in finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle behind the extremely talented Simonsig. It is an indication that connections hold him in high regard for him to be competing in races of such nature.

His future lies over fences and he is undoubtedly an exciting prospect for next year. At this stage of his career, however, dropping back to 2m5f might see him return to the winners’ enclosure.  

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