Horses To Follow » Solwhit


It is not unusual to find clues for the forthcoming National Hunt season in the November Handicap at Leopardstown, and this year there were at least two to take out of Sunday’s latest renewal – the winner Solwhit and the fifth-placed Won In The Dark.

Solwhit was sent off the 9/4 favourite – short enough, you would have thought, for a 19-runner handicap – but the support was well founded. Charles Byrnes’s gelding travelled better than anything into the home straight, and picked up impressively when Paul Townend asked him to go and win his race. This wasn’t the first time that Solwhit had been well supported. He had been well backed on his second run for Byrnes when he landed a four-year-old hurdle at Punchestown in April, and he was backed from 9/1 and 10/1 into an SP of 5/1 for the Irish Cesarewitch in September, when he was a fast-finishing third after getting checked in his run inside the final furlong.

The son of Solon is potentially really well handicapped over hurdles now. The flat handicapper hiked him up 11lb for his win on Sunday, which leaves him on a flat rating of 97, but he can still compete off a mark of 127 over hurdles. These things often don’t work out as logically as they should, but if he can translate his obvious improvement on the flat to the winter game, there could be a big handicap in him. It would not be surprising if Byrnes gave him a break now and aimed him at a big pot like the Pierse Hurdle. That is a race in which five-year-olds have done well.

© The Irish Field, 3rd November, 2008