Horses To Follow » Treacle


Treacle ran a really nice trial for the Grand National in the Hennessy at Leopardstown on Sunday. Held up, he was admittedly ridden to pick up the pieces, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which he stayed on to finish third, just seven lengths behind Quel Esprit. He was supplemented for Sunday’s race with the intention of picking up a rise in the handicap prior to the Grand National weights being released on Tuesday, in order to ensure that he would get into the National, and he has done that. He has possibly done it too well. He has picked up a 14lb rise, which is stiff enough on the face of it as he has been beaten on his last two starts in handicaps (off 134 in England and off 128 in the Paddy Power Chase in Ireland, when he was a staying-on second) but it does see him safely into the National, and Tom Taaffe can go about training him for the big day now. He will have just 10st 8lb if top weight Synchronised runs, and 10st 9lb if he doesn’t and Ballabriggs is left as top weight.

The Zaffaran gelding is 11, but that is not old in the context of a Grand National, and he is relatively lightly-raced for his age. He is a good jumper who stays well, and he didn’t run badly at Aintree’s Mildmay track last October when he finished fourth behind Nikola, on ground that was just too fast for him over just three miles. That is encouraging with regards his chance in the Grand National, form on the Mildmay course at Aintree can be a good pointer to races on the National course, and the marathon trip of the Grand National could be just what he wants. He was apparently bought as a three-year-old with the intention of making up into a National horse (he is a half-brother to Lucky Bay who won a three-mile Grade 2 novice chase at Newbury for Henrietta Knight), and so it is perfectly possible that we have yet to see the best of him, especially as he has had his share of problems and has not been over-raced. He is in the form of his life now, Sunday’s run was a career-best, and his last four runs have all been rock solid. He could be a leading Grand National player.

12th February 2012