Horses To Follow » Tilt


Tilt couldn’t be accused of being straightforward these days, he refused to race in two of his last three starts on the flat, including in the November Handicap at Doncaster, and he didn’t look completely straightforward when he made his debut over hurdles at Catterick on Tuesday, but there is no doubting his talent, and he displayed that talent here while at the same time showing an aptitude for his new job. Sent to the front rank from flagfall, he disputed the lead on the outside of Saveiro in the early stages, pricking his ears and appearing to enjoy himself. His supporters had a bit of a worrying moment when he approached the first in the home straight first time, when he wandered about on the run up to the obstacle and proceeded to get right into the bottom of it. He might have chucked it after that, but he didn’t, he proceeded to race enthusiastically for Keith Mercer. Brian Ellison’s gelding was a little wayward on the approach to the next as well, but he jumped that well and settled into a nice rhythm on the final circuit. He was foot-perfect and fast at the first two down the back straight, and even when he got in tight to the last on the far side, he handled it well and came away from the flight in front and travelling well. At that stage, the two market leaders Lightening Rod and Meridian City moved up in behind menacingly, and the latter in particular appeared as a big danger on the approach to the second last, but Tilt found plenty in front. He moved on again on the approach to the last and, while the Howard Johnson horse found plenty, he just couldn’t even mount a challenge to Tilt, who was pulling away again going to the line, ears pricked, with the front two pulling clear of the rest of the field.

You never know how flat horses are going to fare when they go over hurdles (ref Jumbajukiba at Cork five minutes before Tilt’s race). You just don’t know how they are going to handle eight flights of hurdles, winter weather and ground and bigger weights, and they often disappoint. However, there is a good chance that Tilt has taken to this game, it may just have rejuvenated his attitude, and he may even improve for this. This was a good performance. Meridian City is a highly-regarded horse of Howard Johnson’s, who won two bumpers and won a novices’ hurdle at Aintree in October on his hurdling bow, and who was backed from 3/1 down to 5/4 on Tuesday, and Tilt beat him well, on merit. Tilt was a talented horse on the flat, achieving a rating of 99, he was third in a Chester Cup and sixth in a Northumberland Plate, but it was a worry that he had only won twice in 38 attempts, and not since May 2006. He obviously still has his quirks, but he did seem to enjoy the experience of making his debut over hurdles, and there is a good chance that he will go on from this now.

15th December 2009