Horses To Follow » Scotsirish


Finally, another Mullins horse, Scotsirish, was most impressive in landing the Hilly Way Chase at Cork on Sunday. He travelled like the best horse in the race, moved through his field nicely and quickened away impressively. Wanango did fall at the last while giving chase, but he would have been a gallant second, no better, had he not come down.

It appears that Scotsirish needs either two and a half miles or a stiff test over two miles to produce his best. His best performance before Sunday was when he won the valuable Betfair novices’ handicap chase over two miles and five furlongs under top weight of 11st 10lb at the Punchestown Festival last April. On Sunday, the heavy ground and the fast pace that was set by Knight Legend meant that Scotsirish’s stamina over the trip came into play.

It appears that even the Zaffaran gelding’s trainer is not certain of his optimum trip, given that his entries over Christmas include the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase over two miles, and the Lexus Chase and the King George over three. He didn’t appear to stay three miles at Thurles last month, so it is unlikely that he would be capable of winning either of the long-distance Grade 1 races.

However, the Dial-A-Bet race could cut up quite badly and, if the ground comes up soft or heavy, which it probably will, and if a couple of front-runners like Tumbling Dice or Justified were to stand their ground, then it might prove to be a sufficient stamina test for Scotsirish. In the longer term, the Ryanair Chase looks like the race for him at Cheltenham. With some bookmakers quoting odds of as big as 50/1 about some of the likely Ryanair contenders, it is strange that Scotsirish is not quoted for it by any. (Does that mean you will get better than 50/1 if you ask?)

© The Irish Field, 20th December, 2008