Horses To Follow » Horses To Follow

Count Meribel

Count Meribel was very professional in landing the 2m 5f novices’ hurdle at Ascot. Mark Grant sent him to the front from flagfall and he was quickly into a nice rhythm. His jumping was very good and he came clear of his field from the second last flight to post an impressive victory.

He is a second-season novice, so he does have an experience edge at this relatively early stage of the season, but his jumping is very good, and he has a nice progressive profile. He is now three for three this season, and this was probably his best yet, stepped up to 2m 5f for the first time. He could get 3m on this evidence, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

Ascot, 25th November 2017

Sir Valentino

Sir Valentino was only seventh best of the eight runners according to the market for the 2m handicap chase, but there was no fluke about his victory. Held up early on by Jonathan Burke, he made a significant mistake at the fifth last fence, down the side of the track, just as the pace was increasing and just as he was trying to make ground. He did well to get back into the race after that. He moved up well over the fourth last and third last fences and, wide into the home straight, he stayed on well from the second last fence to get the better of favourite San Benedeto and to hold off the challenge of Cepage, who came from the rear.

Tom George’s horse competed in the best of company last season, he finished fifth in the Tingle Creek, second in the Desert Orchid Chase and third in the Champion Chase, beaten by totals of, respectively, five and a half lengths, a half a length and six and a half lengths. He was pulled up in the Haldon Gold Cup on his reappearance this term – a race that he won last season – but that obviously wasn’t his running. He is probably best kept away from deep winter ground, he has had plenty of racing but he is obviously back in top form, and he is a horse who is often under-rated.

Ascot, 25th November 2017

Sam Spinner

Sam Spinner was very good in landing the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle over 2m 7f at Haydock on Saturday. Fast away from the standing start for Joe Colliver, he was quickly in front and into a nice even rhythm, and he never really saw a rival. He travelled well in front and, while Champers On Ice and The Dutchman threatened early in the home straight, and Theo’s Charm made ground from the rear, it never really looked like he was going to be caught. He made a mistake at the second last flight, he landed flat-footed, and that could have given his rivals a chance, but he got going again, came away from his rivals, popped the last fluently and came clear, winning by 17l in the end in a decent time.

This was a really impressive performance by Jedd O’Keeffe’s horse. He had tried to make all on his previous run, his seasonal debut at Chepstow in October, but he just got run down by Court Minstrel close home in a race that is working out well. He has run eight times now, and he has never been out of the first two. He has won four of his six races over hurdles and finished second in the other two, and he won his first bumper and finished second in his second. He has never been out of the first two in his life.

The handicapper raised him by 14lb for this to a mark of 155, but he won by 17l, and he probably won with even more than the 17l winning margin in hand. Also, he is only five and this was just his sixth run over hurdles, so he still has potential for progression over staying trips. He is bred for stamina and this was his first run over a distance in excess of 2m 4f, so he could continue to improve.

Haydock, 25th November 2017


Hainan was seriously impressive in winning the 3m 4f handicap chase. Well backed beforehand, he always raced prominently and he could have been called as the most likely winner from a long way out. He stayed on well over the last and he came clear of the well-backed Courtown Oscar.

Sue Smith’s horse won a novices’ handicap chase over 3m at Wetherby last season, but this was his first foray beyond 3m, and he probably put up the best performance of his career by a fair way. He relished this testing ground and the test of stamina that the ground and the distance presented. The handicapper raised him by 8lb to a mark of 140, but he is only six and this was just his seventh chase, and his first chase of the season, so there could be a fair bit more to come.

Haydock, 25th November 2017

Dont Tell No One

Dont Tell No One ran a big race to finish second to Mala Beach in the Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday. Settled towards the rear of the field through the early stages of the race by Andrew Lynch, and slightly hampered when Acapella Bourgeois fell beside him at the second last fence on the first circuit, he made ground through his field quite quickly as they raced across the bottom of the track to move into a share of third place as they rounded the home turn. Apparently travelling well at that point, John Kiely’s horse appeared to be travelling at least as well as Bonny Kate and Mala Beach as the trio raced to the second last fence, but a slightly slow leap at that obstacle meant that the other two horses got away from him a bit. Four lengths down as they ran to the last, he stayed on well from there to get to within 3l of the winner Mala Beach, who stayed on well himself, with the pair of them pulling 8l clear of Bonny Kate in third.

It was a fine performance from Dont Tell No One. He travelled well the whole way, and he gave best only to a highly-talented individual who could be better than a handicapper in a race that was run in a good time. He is nine years old, but he is lightly-raced, this was just his 10th race under all codes and it was just his fifth over fences. He handled this heavy ground well, but he won his beginners’ chase on good ground at Killarney in August, so he is versatile. He does stay well though.

The handicapper raised him by 4lb to a mark of 134, but he will still be of interest in big staying handicap chases off that type of mark. He could be a horse for the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown at Christmas.

Navan, 26th November 2017