Horses To Follow » Deutschland


There was always a chance that Deutschland would jump his hurdles too big in the Pierse Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday, given that the last three times he had been to a racecourse he was jumping over the larger obstacles, and so it proved. He lost valuable ground and momentum over the first couple of flights – something you really don’t want to be doing in a 30-runner handicap around the inside track at Leopardstown – which saw him drop from a good position just behind the leaders jumping the first flight, to around 20th by the time he rose to the third flight. He did warm to the task a little, but another slow jump at the flight opposite the stands put one more nail in his prospects of winning the race, and he simply found himself too far behind at the exit to the back straight to be able to mount a challenge of any consequence. As it turned out, he kept on well all the way to the line to finish eighth, less than three lengths behind the winner.

It will be interesting to see what Willie Mullins does with Deutschland now. He is almost certainly really well handicapped over hurdles, given that he competed on Sunday off a handicap rating of 121, 7lb lower than the mark off which he competed in the Pierse last year, and he is now six and theoretically in his prime as a hurdler. If he can jump a little more fluently – and he may do with this experience under his girth and probably more schooling at home – there could be a big handicap in him, ideally on softer ground or over slightly further. He does hold an entry in the Totesport Trophy.

There is also the option to resume with his chasing career, in which case he should win his beginners’ chase (he is actually a good jumper even though he has fallen on his last two starts over fences), and he could make up into a really decent novice over two or two and a half miles. My Jewson Chase shortlist is getting very long, but they can’t all run in it, and Deutschland would be another who would have a massive chance in the race if that was the route that Mullins chose for him. Ideally he would have a confidence-boosting completion over fences in the interim, but that should be easy enough to organise. He doesn’t have a chase rating yet, but Merchent Paddy was given a rating of 112 after he beat him by two lengths at Down Royal in November so, even allowing for that one’s subsequent exploits, and Deutschland’s moral victory in the beginners’ chase on the final day of Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, his chase rating couldn’t be any more than his hurdles rating, which gives plenty of scope for the English handicapper’s inevitable weight-for-nationality hike when he crosses the Irish Sea. You are ideally looking for a horse rated in the low to mid 130s for the Jewson, and Deutschland’s mark should be close. Also, remember that Finger Onthe Pulse won the Jewson as a maiden over fences last March.

11th January, 2009