Festival occasion got to underperforming Tobefair - Hamer
Tobefair, whose winning streak faltered at the Cheltenham Festival, has options at the Grand National meeting or back at the scene of his defeat, where his trainer believes the heightened media attention on the horse contributed to a below-par performance.
Star of the eight-strong stable of Debra Hamer in Carmarthenshire, Tobefair went into the Pertemps Final on a run of seven successive victories, during which his handicap mark rose from 81 to 134.
But after tracking the early leaders, he dropped away from two out and crossed the line 22nd of the 24-strong field and more than 50 lengths behind winner Presenting Percy.
“I think he got very upset by the cameramen following him around,”
said Hamer of the seven-year-old, who is owned by the Down The Quay Club, comprising 17 pub regulars from neighbouring Pembrokeshire. “It certainly wasn’t him and I think he got very worked up and more or less ran with the choke out.
"He got so buzzed up. I think he lost the plot a bit. He was too keen going down to the start and it all went pear-shaped. There wasn't a mark on him, he wasn't blowing after he came back, and he's well now. We'll learn from our experience."
Hamer believes Tobefair's long-term future lies over fences but she could give him one more start this season, either at Aintree next week or Cheltenham on April 19 if the ground is on the soft side.
"We aren't going to go novice chasing yet," she said. "If he doesn't go to Aintree or Cheltenham and the ground goes a bit dry then we'll put him away and bring him back out for maybe a hurdle race before novice chasing.
"He's a lovely horse and I still don't think we've got to the bottom of him. If he'd finished tenth and run his race at Cheltenham I'd have been delighted, but he didn't run his race. He cut his own throat."