Horses To Follow » Fiepes Shuffle

Fiepes Shuffle

There was so much going on over the Christmas period that it was difficult to keep up. The foreign raiders had a field day in the UK last Saturday, with Jim Dreaper’s Notre Pere staying on gallantly to land the Welsh National for Ireland for the first time, and a German and a French invader taking the two graded races at Kempton.

Both Fiepes Shuffle and Original deserve more credit than they were afforded. Fiepes Shuffle didn’t have it all to himself up front in the Desert Orchid Chase, he didn’t jump brilliantly, and he jumped consistently to his left, yet he still had the race in the bag going to the second last when a mistake there opened the door again for Petit Robin and almost let him in. But the German horse battled bravely on the run-in and got back up to win decisively.

Okay, so perhaps Twist Magic didn’t run his race, but there is no reason to suspect that Petit Robin or third-placed Pablo Du Charmil didn’t, and Fiepes Shuffle beat them on merit, albeit in receipt of 4lb and 6lb respectively. The Big Shuffle gelding would have won the Agfa Hurdle at Sandown in 2006 had he not fallen at the final flight, and he is a prolific winner in Germany. However, while his jumping inclination suggests that he will probably be better going left-handed than going right, in the context of the Champion Chase it is a worry that he was tailed off in the 2006 Champion Hurdle on his only run at Cheltenham. That said, you have to think that odds of 50/1 about him for the Champion Chase are big.

© The Irish Field, 3rd January, 2009