Horses To Follow » Alpha Ridge

Alpha Ridge

The Paul Nolan-trained Alpha Ridge made all to land the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park last Thursday. A novice against experienced hurdlers, Jim Mernagh’s gelding jumped well, if a little to his left on occasion, and stayed on really well over the final two flights to repel Whatuthink. Kazal made a fairly bad mistake down the far side, which really left him fighting an uphill battle on his first run since last November, and Shakervilz was a little disappointing – he made a bad mistake himself at the second last, but he was probably struggling at that stage anyway – and Footy Facts was withdrawn on the morning of the race, so it may not have been the best Galmoy Hurdle ever run.

The other slightly worrying aspect is that the ground was bottomless at Gowran on Thursday, the jockeys were reporting it as just about raceable, and Alpha Ridge thrives in those conditions. However, while he still has to prove that he can be as effective on better ground, he did it really well. It may be that he just needs a severe test of stamina and that he is not wholly dependent on the ground being soft. The Glacial Storm gelding did get well beaten by Pandorama at Navan in November, but that was over two and a half miles, not three, it was his fourth race in nine weeks and his trainer felt that he just might have been a little flat. Also, Pandorama is very good!

Alpha Ridge will get the test of stamina that he needs in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at Cheltenham, which is apparently where he is headed as long as the ground isn’t too fast, and he would be worthy of serious consideration for that, especially if it were to come up on the soft side. His tendency to jump slightly to his left would be no handicap there either. Even if he doesn’t make it to Cheltenham this year, he is a staying novice chaser to look forward to next season.

22nd January, 2009