Horses To Follow » Pumbaa


There was a lot to like about the performance that Pumbaa put up in winning the two-mile-three-furlong handicap chase at Clonmel on Thursday. Sent to the front from flagfall by Roger Quinlan, Donal Commins’ horse had all his rivals except Spot Fine well beaten off long before he started the turn for home and, although Spot Fine kept on gallantly over the last two fences, it never looked like he was going to get close to Pumbaa. A spring-heeled leap at the last not only ended the race as a contest, it also told you that the Vinnie Roe gelding probably had plenty of energy left, and he kept on going up the run-in to post an impressive victory with the front two miles clear of their rivals.

A dual winner over hurdles last season for Jimmy Mangan, it looks like Pumbaa is going to be a better chaser. He won his beginners’ chase at the first time of asking at Tramore in early October on his debut this season, and he improved on that to finish a close-up third in a good race at Galway. Thursday’s run was another step forward on that and, just a six-year-old, he should be able to continue his progression over fences.

It is interesting that his trainer said afterwards that the Grade 2 two-and-a-half-mile chase at Limerick over Christmas was next on Pumbaa’s radar. That race should suit his front-running attacking style. He would also be interesting in a good handicap now. Rated 125, he carried top weight in Thursday’s race, and the handicapper should not be too harsh on him, given that he only beat a 116-rated chaser by four lengths. As a six-year-old who has raced just three times over fences, however, he still has lots of scope for progression.

13th November 2014