Horses To Follow » Pop


Pop ran a nice race to finish fourth in the hot two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase run at Newbury on Hennessy day. Well back early on, he was a bit sketchy at one or two of his fences, but he gradually made progress up the back straight, arrived there in behind the leaders as they left the back straight and travelled well just behind the leaders going over the cross fence, five from home. Disputing sixth place jumping the third last, the leaders got away from him a bit from that point, but he kept on nicely over the last three fences all the way to the line, albeit finishing a long way behind the front three, Mount Oscar, Pasco and Piraya, but in front of Au Courant and Too Forward.

In a pre-race interview, trainer Henry Daly said that they had ironed out a problem that Pop had with his back, and that he was fit enough to run, but that he would probably come on for it, as a lot of the trainer’s horses do for their seasonal debut. He was ridden that way, kindly out the back. On top of his absence of 220 days, the ground was probably a little softer than ideal. He will be better on better ground.

One other thing worth noting about Pop’s performance here. All the main players in the finish of the race, Mount Oscar, Pasco, Au Courant, all raced prominently, so Pop did well to get into it from the back. A son of Cricket Ball, Pop was a nicely progressive novice chaser last season, and he was running a big race in the Festival Plate at Cheltenham when he came down at the fourth last. He is only six, he has run just eight times over fences, he is still progressive for a trainer who takes his time with his chasers and, as a bonus, the handicapper has dropped him 3lb to a mark of 135 for this run, back down to a mark that is 7lb lower than the mark off which he competed at Cheltenham. He stays two and a half miles well, and he could win a decent prize off that mark on ground that wasn’t too soft.

28th November 2009