2 Feb 2019

888Sport Masters Handicap Chase (Class 2)

I’m relieved the racing has survived at Sandown as finally we have a meeting run in the kind of conditions we’d expect for the time of year.

Moreover, the ENIGMA Racing syndicates have a stake in Divine Spear who runs there today in the most backable handicap on the card, and there are good reasons to think he may be about to outrun his current quote of 22/1.

Divine Spear is quite a big unit and it took him a while to fill out his frame. He’s a very solid jumper, chasing was always going to be his game and last year body and mind came together and we got a glimpse of the horse he could be. A freak injury on the very eve of the 2018 Festival spoiled the party as he’d been primed to arrive there at his peak.

Going into that we were confident he was well-handicapped, and he’s since come down a couple of pounds. Rated 139, we think (and hope) he’s destined to wind up well into the 140’s over fences.

With regard to today, it’s worth bearing in mind that Divine Spear's half-brother Jadanli was a Thyestes Chase winner who loved it soft and I think this is the sort of race the Spear been building up to his whole career.

Put a line through the run last year at Musselburgh, that was purely for fitness – he’s better judged on the prior run when hacking up at Ascot on soft by 10 lengths in a novice chase (giving 5lbs to Exitas who is now rated 142). Divine Spear has often run well right-handed and, crucially, today he finally again gets his conditions.

At Cheltenham on reappearance this year the yard thought he would run well, but the ground was very firm underneath and he didn’t travel a yard. Nico eased him down a long way out to save him for another day. We know he’s a lot better than that. He’s largely unfancied today coming off that run.

It is possible that he’s lost his appetite for the game, but there’s no doubt in my mind he is overpriced to find out. My bigger concern is whether he’ll stay the 3-mile trip in these conditions at a course as stiff as Sandown. That is a journey into the unknown but his jumping, breeding and liking for the conditions give him a shot. Nico hasn’t lost faith in him either.

3.35 Sandown, Divine Spear 0.75pt EW 22/1, 5x1/5 various

Herbie authors the Key Racing Gold thread on the ENIGMA Forum - check the performance at:

** Nico reports the Spear travelled great but simply didn't stay. 2.5 miles is his trip, especially in testing ground. He jumped and travelled, compensation awaits in due course **

Divine Spear looks underestimated today at Sandown in ideal conditions

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