Horses To Follow » Sunnyhillboy


There was also considerable promise from Sunnyhillboy in the three-mile fixed brush handicap hurdle won by Dynaste at Haydock on Saturday. Jonjo O’Neill’s gelding ran a nice race in staying on well from the rear all the way up the home straight to finish seventh under the 10lb claimer Maurice Linehan after Dynaste had injected a huge amount of pace to the race as he levelled for home. This should set Sunnyhillboy up nicely for much bigger targets over fences this season.

He proved here once again, as he had done when upped to an extreme distance in the Irish Grand National last season, that he does stay well, he was closing all the way up the straight here. Synchronised, also trained by Jonjo O’Neill and owned by JP McManus, finished really strongly to get third, and his eye-catching run has meant that Sunnyhillboy’s performance has gone a little under the radar.

This was a most encouraging start back for Sunnyhillboy though, and the Grand National is surely his aim. He ran a huge race in the Irish National last year, a race that is a really good pointer to the Aintree showpiece, he was really badly impeded at a crucial stage four fences from home where he ran right into the back of Sebadee who had made a desperate mistake at the fence, but he still ran on strongly in the home straight to finish third. He is a classy horse, he has some very solid pieces of form, most notably when he was a close second to Great Endeavour in the Byrne Group Plate in 2010 in receipt of just 1lb, and he ran well in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham last season too.

He is eight going on nine, making him the right age for the Grand National. A chase mark of 142 leaves him on just about a perfect mark for the race (the bottom weight in last season’s race ran off a mark of 138) and he is interesting for Aintree now. He is a little smaller than ideal for Aintree, although we have seen in recent times through Amberleigh House, Numbersixvalverde and last year’s runner-up Oscar Time that being on the small side is not necessarily a negative.

19th November 2011