Horses To Follow » Unaccompanied


Unaccompanied put up a really nice performance to land the Tote Jackpot Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday, and she is a real live Triumph Hurdle contender now. Settled on the inside by Paul Townend in the early stages, the Moyglare Stud’s filly jumped well, and made her ground easily on the run to the second last. Her rider had to shake her up a little on the run around the home turn but, once pulled to the outside, she was back on the bridle and she eased through to join Fearless Falcon and Indian Daudaie on the run to the final flight. She was a little awkward at the last, but she was still a length up on landing, and she picked up impressively to stretch away and win well, with three lengths back to Sailors Warn, who stayed on well to take second place.

Unaccompanied had looked good in winning on her debut over hurdles at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve, but that was just a juvenile maiden, and Saturday’s race was a huge step up in class for the Dermot Weld-trained filly, a Grade 1 contest in which she was taking on the best juvenile hurdlers in Ireland. The form of the race is solid, with Sailors Warn, who won the Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, finishing second, and Fearless Falcon, the horse who chased Paddy Wilmott’s horse home in that contest, finishing third. On top of that, there is a rare line into the British juvenile hurdling form, with Indian Daudaie, who had finished a close-up third behind Local Hero in the Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham’s January meeting, well beaten in fifth place. If he ran his race here – and he was well-fancied and well-backed, there is no reason to assume that he didn’t – then this line of form gives the best of the Irish juveniles every chance against the best of the British.

A couple of concerns in the context of the Triumph Hurdle. Firstly, Unaccompanied is a daughter of Danehill Dancer, and both of her wins over hurdles have been on soft ground. However, she did win her maiden on fast ground at Galway last July, so there is every chance that she will handle the likely faster ground at Cheltenham, as long as it is not lightning fast, which it rarely is at the Cheltenham Festival these days, even on the last day. Secondly, the Triumph Hurdle is more of a stamina test for juvenile hurdlers than a speed test, and it is a bit of a worry that Unaccompanied was a miler on the flat as opposed to a middle-distance filly. However, she is out of a Sadler’s Wells mare who won over a mile and a half, and she certainly didn’t appear to be stopping at the end of the Leopardstown race, she did stay on really well up the hill.

She is an exciting filly, she jumps hurdles well, and she is trained by a top trainer who has already trained a Triumph Hurdle winner (Rare Holiday, 1990). Also, she will get 7lb from the geldings in the UK as opposed to 5lb in Ireland, and that is a significant concession for juveniles in a race in which fillies do well anyway from minimal representation, and it is easy to see her running a big race.

12th February 2011

© The Irish Field, 19th February 2011