Moore keen for Ar Mad to test Douvan's Arkle credentials
It was not the victory that was important for Ar Mad in a three-runner race at Plumpton yesterday, but the way in which it was achieved as Gary Moore's young chaser showed considerable improvement jumping and booked himself a place in the Racing Post Arkle at Cheltenham.
The only other time the six-year-old had jumped left-handed over fences was over this course and distance last October, when he looked uncomfortable and finished a distant sixth. He has since cast such a poor performance aside by tearing away with Graded events at Sandown and Kempton.
This final outing before the Festival had taken on increased importance with Willie Mullins' Douvan lying in wait. After a couple of unconvincing early leaps, Moore's charge began to find his stride, ultimately proving so superior as 2/7 favourite that he strolled home a distance clear, despite conceding a stone and a half to his rivals.
"He jumped right at a few obstacles, but he is a very clever horse," said jockey Josh Moore. "He's grown up a lot. When he needs to adjust himself he just runs down a little bit to make sure he's on the right stride. He'll come on a lot fitness-wise - he could have done another lap round there. I wouldn't be worried about him going to Cheltenham."
Of Ar Mad, left unchanged at around 8/1 against the long odds-on Douvan, Moore Snr said: "He does jump out to the right slightly. You're giving ground away doing that but Josh said as they went faster, he jumped straighter. It's not a perfect world, but he has beaten all the best horses in this country. He has just got that Irish horse to beat.
"If he's beaten by a better horse in the Arkle, then fair enough. We'll know if he's a Champion Chase horse for next year."
A few days ago, Moore had been considering the possibility of saddling four top-class two-milers at Cheltenham, but bad luck has halved the team.
Traffic Fluide was prevented from joining Sire De Grugy in the Champion Chase with a season-ending injury and then last Saturday's Warwick winner Violet Dancer had to have a screw inserted yesterday to fix a condylar fracture in a hind leg and will miss the Arkle.