So technically it is a different code but bumper races do offer a more similar look to flat racing. Kevin has enjoyed some success in the NH game and he had his first runner of the season this week when Strummer changed codes to make his debut over hurdles. With a good placed effort in that run it wasn’t long before he sent out his first winner and it was a good one as Beyond The Clouds ran away with the 2 Mile Bet totequadpot At Betfred.com Intermediate Open National Hunt Flat Race at Worcester.
From a family that Kevin knows well, having trained Beautiful Day and Moonlight Venture, Beyond The Clouds matched his siblings with his progress. Quite a big and raw horse he took time to develop and it wasn’t until last year that he began to shape like he was ready, as a 3yr old. From his work it as obvious that he would need a trip and Kevin had a decision to make, whether he would go for a flat maiden or the bumper route. The latter was chosen and it has proved to be the correct call.
Having made a winning debut, when bolting up at Musselburgh, he then found only one too good on his second start again at the Scottish track. It was decided after that run that a break until the new NH season would help Clouds develop physically and a better horse could be seen. The form of his second was also franked by the winner so things were looking promising for the chestnut.
Back in full training and up to speed, Kevin had to start searching for races and with the help of Brian Hughes they found the bumper at Worcester. Only 7 were declared to run and it did look a good opportunity for Clouds on his return. The level of form he brought to the race was clearly the best and duly he was sent off the odds on 10-11 favourite, despite conceding weight all round. On the market guide it seemed a 3 horse race with the others being long odds.
In his mind Brian felt he was on the best horse and so rode him that way. Jumping off at a sedate pace, Beyound The Clouds settled directly behind the leader. His closest market rival, Mac Tottie, joined him on the outer. The small field of runners settled into their positions and happily let the steady pace continue up front.
With a long way to run there was little to talk about for the first 5f-6f. It was down the back straight where the pace finally lifted a touch. The leader stretched out, not increasing it too much but enough to get the field stretched out. This move detached two of the big outsiders as the main body of the field became 5 now with the back markers toiling. Clouds travelled easily on the inside, with Brian taking the shortest route possible. Mac Tottie was monitoring Cloud’s every move but the other fancied runner, newcomer Francky Du Berlais, just began to have to work.
There was little to worry about for favourite backers as Clouds had an idela position and travelled comfortably. The leader again upped the ante at the 5f marker, coming to end of the back straight and into the home bend. This split the field once more, detaching two more, including Francky Du Berlais and leaving just the trio in front. Still stalking the leader, Clouds move well but so too his biggest danger Mac Tottie.
Straightening up for home and now the long time leader laid down his challenge. Trying to kick clear from the front the lead was quickly surrendered as Beyond The Clouds move swiftly through the take the lead, hard on the bridle. Between the 3f and 2f marker Clouds quickened up and opened up a few lengths advantage with relative ease. Mac Tottie now went in pursuit but was hard at work and not getting anywhere close to the new leader.
Brian was happy to sit patiently as Clouds really stretched clear. Closing in on the final furlong and Brian made a decision. The win was obvious and if he wanted to, Brian could have let Clouds coast home. He didn’t want to do this and got lower in the saddle to drive his mount out. The final furlong was to be an education for Clouds, with Brian driving in the saddle, changing his hands and using the stick a couple of times. The pair strode out to an easy 14 length win, with Mac Tottie back in second and the newcomer Francky Du Berlais staying on late to grab third.
Beyond The Clouds was the one to beat and it was great to see him perform the way he did. Brian was brilliant in the saddle to educate the chestnut, doing so for the future so he ould know how to race under pressure in better company. Clouds is a physically bigger and better horse now and still improving. Kevin has a decision now as Clouds really does look capable of going for better targets in the NH game but could be a nice prospect if reverting to the flat. Whatever is chosen it is just nice to see the famous Mr Guy Reed silks being carried to victory and keeping those bloodlines in the winners enclosure.