Horses To Follow » Merchent Paddy

Merchent Paddy

Merchent Paddy was one of the most unexposed horses in the two-and-a-half-mile chase at Naas on Sunday, and he was backed from morning prices of 4/1 down to an SP of 6/4, which was even more significant given that he is trained by Charles Byrnes. Held up out the back by Davy Russell, he made his ground gradually, joined Retrievethelegend at the last and maintained his momentum up the hill to the line. The runner-up was well fancied and well backed as well, and travelled well himself around the home turn, and the pair were well clear of their rivals, but Merchent Paddy didn’t seem to be doing very much once he hit the front, so he probably had a lot more in hand than the three-length winning margin. The handicapper is sure to give him a fair hike for this, but he was rated 5lb higher over hurdles than the mark of 112 off which he raced here, and this was just his sixth start over fences, so he has plenty of leeway, and has real scope for improvement over fences. He has proven already that he handles good ground as well as the soft ground that prevailed on Sunday, and that he stays well, having won beaten Deutschland in his beginners’ chase over almost three miles on good ground at Downpatrick in November, so he has many options. The Thyestes Chase at the end of the month is an obvious next port of call, and it is not inconceivable that he will improve enough to be a contender for the William Hill Chase at Cheltenham. At the very least, there is probably another good handicap chase in him.

4th January, 2009