When he is good he is very very good!
Along with the performance of Annsam in the previous race, Pic D'Orhy's wide margin of victory was a helpful reminder that the ground rarely gets very testing round Kempton. Certainly, soft ground here is not the same as soft at the likes of Haydock and Chepstow.
Trainers often target their good-ground horses at the Christmas meeting here, even when the official description may imply that a soft-ground horse is advantaged. It may also be significant that three of the first four winners on the card won by wide margins after making all the running.
When Pic D'Orhy is on a going day he looks very good, as indeed he did here. Whatever we think he achieved here, a wide margin of success can only lead to him being over-bet the next time we see him. Moreover, as good as he appeared to be, one would have to question if anything ran a race behind him.
Although he took a while to get used to this jumping game, Pic D'Orhy is now developing into a more reliable proposition over fences than he was, and continues to be a very attractive horse to watch when able to dominate like he did in this Grade Two chase. He will surely be targeted at the Betfair Ascot Chase next, and hopefully will be lining up against one or two better quality types.
I want to remember how impressive Pic D'Orhy looked here as much as I do not want to forget that he will not always enjoy such a positive trip through a race as he did at Kempton.
Furthermore, he is arguably only just ahead of Millers Bank on two pieces of form between the pair from Huntingdon and Kempton. There is a seven pounds difference between the pair according to ratings after this wide margin success.
The discrepancy in respective ratings will then probably have a more significant impact on the market than it should. Consequently, if those two met again this season the gap between their odds may seriously overestimate any difference in their respective claims. Maybe Aintree would be more likely than Ascot for that rematch.
Two horse flattered by their finishing positions
I thought that Clondaw Castle produced a broadly similar performance to the one he put in when chasing home Clan Des Obeaux at a similarly wide margin at Aintree in April 2021.
As with Aintree, he is significantly flattered by this second-place finish with very little finishing behind him. In addition, I would not use this performance as proof of his stamina for three miles in this grade on a soft surface.
The third horse to complete the course was Paint The Dream, and I suspect his connections will not be in a hurry to send him back to a right-handed track anytime soon - maybe even less so when competing on a soft surface.
His third-place finish in a Grade Two chase will read a lot better than it is in reality as nothing that ran a race finished behind him.
A case of job done?
After the jockey was run away with on board Saint Calvados last time out, the object of this exercise was clearly to get him to settle and finish off his race. On both counts this must go down as mission accomplished.
He rather stole a Grade Two contest at Sandown in April, when his only market rival whipped round at the start, and he may need a similarly weakly contested graded race to follow up that success with another one this season.
That same Sandown race would be the obvious spring target, assuming the course provides the better ground he now requires.
A helpful nudge from the handicapper
Coole Cody faded right away a long way from home, and the handicapper often drops older horses more quickly for one apparently poor showing. This bias has worked in Coole Cody's favour, as he has been dropped four pounds after this fifth-placed finish from six starters.
Presumably this was the reason his jockey was so keen to finish the race and why he persevered with him for so long despite his race being over entering the back straight. He can now return to Cheltenham in March off a much more attractive 147 rating.
One who may be better on another day
The writing was on the wall for followers of Angels Breath in the very first stages of the race, as he raced in such a fresh and keen manner from the first fence.
It was interesting, therefore, that his jockey kept him wide throughout rather than try and tuck him in to give him a better chance to settle. It can only be assumed that he wanted his horse to see daylight to increase the chances of him jumping round safe and sound.
Hopefully this considerate ride will have taken the buzz out of him, and he will be more tractable next time, and when a horse has been off for such a long time it is bound to be a case of one race at a time for him.
The Betfair Ascot Chase is the obvious next target assuming it provides the soft ground he excels on. Whether that would be flying too high is difficult to say on such limited evidence, but either way, he hopefully returns to his yard in good health, and we will see some progress next time.
Andy Gibson's Eyecatchers Service is now available to trial on Tipstrr until the end of the month. Click here to learn more and read his latest article which examines the form of nine different horses.