Horses To Follow » Mega Fortune
Mega Fortune put up a really likeable performance to finish third behind Bapaume and Landofhopeandglory in the Grade 2 juveniles’ hurdle race at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day. A little keen through the early stages of the race for Davy Russell, Gordon Elliott’s horse came under pressure as they raced around the top of the track to the second last flight, but he kept finding. Both the first and second travelled better than him into the home straight, but there was a lot to like about the game manner in which he stuck to his task, going down by less than two lengths in the end, and beaten just a short head by Landofhopeandglory for second place, the front three clear.
This trio fought out the finish of the Grade 3 juveniles’ contest on Hatton’s Grace Hurdle weekend at Fairyhouse too three weeks earlier. The placings of the first two were reversed, and Mega Fortune got closer to them on this occasion than he had at Fairyhouse. The stiffer test at Leopardstown helped him, as did the faster pace, but he should do even better when there is even more of a premium on stamina.
All three probably stepped up on their Fairyhouse runs. The Leopardstown race was run at a good pace and in a good time, 3.7secs faster than the opening maiden and 0.8secs faster than the bumper, in which there are obviously no hurdles.
This was really just Mega Fortune’s third run over hurdles – he fell at the second flight on his debut – and he has improved for each run. A winner on the flat for Andy Oliver and rated 80, he is shaping up to be significantly better over hurdles. Gordon Elliott has a good record in the juvenile hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, and it would be surprising if he did not have Cheltenham in mind for Chris Jones’ horse. A rating of 130 means that the Fred Winter Hurdle is a real option – official ratings in the Fred Winter last year went from 142 to 128 and Flaxen Flare was rated 127 when he won it for Elliott in 2013 – but it would not be surprising if Mega Fortune improved sufficiently to be a big player in the Triumph Hurdle. Cheltenham should suit him, the fast pace and the stiff track should play to his strengths.
26th December 2016