Black Corton ran a great race in the Galway Plate for trainer Paul Nicholls. And there is every reason to be excited about what is to come this winter for him. He ran well last season, and with the exception of one race, he was a model of consistency and a horse to be proud of.
He looked in great heart in the Galway Plate, and will now have a few weeks off before returning for what is likely to be another successful campaign.
Black Corton ran six times last season, finishing second on four occasions. He was also pulled up once and managed to get a deserved success on his final start of the campaign at Sandown in April. He started off on a handicap mark of 153 when he made his seasonal debut in the Charlie Hall Chase. After a productive season, he ended things with a rating of 158 after his Sandown win.
He was a model of consistency throughout the season, despite only winning once and if anything, he deserved to get his head in front more than that.
He returned to run on the flat at Royal Ascot in June, running in the long-distance Queen Alexandra Stakes and finishing a respectable 8th in that race. That was, of course, a target, but also a prep race for the Galway Plate, which he ran in last month.
The Galway Plate
He finished second in the Plate behind Borice, going down by three and a quarter lengths under regular pilot Bryony Frost. You need to be an incredibly well-handicapped horse to win the Galway Plate, and that is something that Borice looks like based on his runs in France. So to finish second behind that horse is a good effort.
To be fair to connections of Black Corton, it did look like the Galway Plate was in the bag. But jockey Bryony Frost was hampered on the run-in, when leading, by a loose horse. That caused him to veer to the right, losing valuable ground which was capitalised on by Borice.
Black Corton ran off 158 and since that run has been put up a further 4lb to take him to a mark of 162. That puts him at a level where he is more than capable of winning Grade Two and Grade Three events throughout the season if Paul Nicholls decides to campaign him like that. He is probably just short of the level required to compete at Grade One level and would be no more than a lively outsider in those events, should he run in them.
However, the hope is that Nicholls decides to campaign him in races he can win, and if that is the case then I see a really good season ahead for him. He ran in the Charlie Hall Chase first time out last season, and that is exactly the kind of race he needs to be starting off in again this season.
That Grade Two contest usually attracts a good field, but it is the kind of race that Black Corton should be winning if he is to run to the kind of level we have seen from him both recently at Galway and last season on numerous occasions.
Grand National 2020
There will also be speculation about his potential for the Grand National 2020. He will be nine-years-old when that race rolls around which is ideal. However, it’s the distance that could be a major stumbling block.
The furthest he has ever run is 3m2f and that was the only time he has ever been pulled up in his career. So it’s quite possible that the 4m+ of the Aintree course could be too much.
That said there have been plenty of chasers who stepped up in the Grand National and Black Corton’s impeccable record bodes well for him. He has never fallen or unseated and, with the exception of the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, has never been pulled-up.
Will Paul Nicholls take his chances with him at Aintree? That remains to be seen. If he does get an entry he will be an incredibly popular runner especially if Bryony Frost rides him!