Horses To Follow » Bentelimar


Bentelimar looked good in winning the listed two-mile novices’ hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday.

Strong in the market beforehand, Shay Barry’s horse was keen enough through the early stages of the race for Brian O’Connell, despite the fact that O Ceallaigh set a decent pace. His jumping through the early stages of the race was good, but it did lack fluency down the far side. Even so, he moved into second place behind O Ceallaigh as they left the back straight and moved up on the outside of the leader at the second last flight.

He made a mistake at that obstacle, which checked his forward momentum and allowed the favourite Aminabad move up on his outside, but Bentelimar picked up again as they ran around the home turn. He passed the leader and, despite running wide off the home turn, he picked up impressively on the run to the final flight to put three lengths between himself and his closest pursuer. He pricked his ears going into the final obstacle, slowed, jumped to his left and landed flat-footed, again allowing his pursuers close up, but he picked up again on the run-in, stretching his neck out willingly, to win by three and a half lengths.

This was a decent performance by the winner. It was a good race. Runner-up All Hell Let Loose had finished second in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, third-placed Mr Diablo had won twice and finished second twice in his four previous runs with the hood that he wore on Sunday, while fourth-placed Avant Tout had won both his previous races and fifth-placed Aminabad is a dual bumper winner who had been impressive in winning his maiden hurdle on his only previous run over hurdles. Also, the race was run in a good time, the second fastest comparative time on the day, second behind Hidden Cyclone in the Grade 2 Tied Cottage Chase.

Bentelimar was impressive in winning, but he still left the impression that he could do better. He travelled so keenly – he wears a cross-noseband – that you have to think he will do even better off an even stronger pace. Also, he lost ground at the second last and last flights of hurdles, the two obstacles at which he either led or disputed the lead. He will probably do better if his challenge is delayed for even longer, which should be possible in a better race and/or in a bigger field.

The Beneficial gelding is seriously progressive now. Three for three during the summer, when he won a bumper and two hurdle races, on his previous run he did well to win a decent handicap hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival after suffering interference before the home turn. Sunday’s run was another step forward from that, and he should be able to continue to progress. He should learn to jump better and settle better as he gains in experience more, and he should do even better in a better race and/or in a big field where his keen-going style should be an asset rather than a liability.

1st February 2015