Horses To Follow » Barbers Shop

Barbers Shop

Barbers Shop ran out a really impressive winner of the Future Stars Chase at Sandown on Friday. The race might have fallen apart a little, with Ornais going wrong and being pulled up, Battlecry pulling hard early on and spitting the dummy out later, and Roll Along failing to jump with any flair down the back straight, but Barbers Shop travelled like the most likely winner from a long way out, and he landed the spoils with consummate ease.

The Queen’s horse is a wholly likeable sort, and remains hugely progressive. This win also tells us that he stays three miles, at least in a five-horse race. It is not certain whether or not he will stay three and a quarter miles at Cheltenham in a bigger field that will probably go a faster pace, but there is every chance that he will on this evidence and, although trainer Nicky Henderson laughed of the preposterous Gold Cup quotes in the immediate aftermath of the race, this fellow is no forlorn hope, that’s for sure.

Of course, the son of Saddlers’ Hall still has to improve considerably (more than 20lb on official ratings) if he is to get in among the Gold Cup prospects, but there is every chance that he will. He is only six, and these staying chasers can improve immeasurably from six to seven. It is almost certainly more than just coincidence that four of the last seven winners of the Gold Cup were aged seven. Barbers Shop proved in the Jewson Chase last year that the Cheltenham Festival holds no fears. His trainer says that he will go next for the Cotswolds Chase (the old Pillar Property) or the Aon Chase, so there is little doubt that he is thinking Gold Cup, and best odds 33/1 about him for the Blue Riband are generous.

© The Irish Field, 13th December, 2008