Horses To Follow » Cailin Alainn

Cailin Alainn

Cailin Alainn ran out a really game winner of the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles on Thursday. She looked to be struggling a little early on under Slippers Madden as Knight Legend cut out a decent pace, but that was wholly forgivable for a mare who is almost certainly better over further than the two and a half miles of this contest.

Charles Byrnes’s mare was a little bit sticky over a couple of obstacles in the early stages, most notably the one before the home turn on the first circuit, and she got in a little tight to the second last fence on the first circuit, with the result that Slippers Madden had to ride her a little going past the winning post first time, but that’s her way. She has never been the fastest over her obstacles, but she has always had a serious engine, as she showed when she out-stayed Schindlers Hunt in the Drinmore Chase as a novice, and when she kept Patsy Hall at bay in the Grade 1 three-mile novices’ chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival in 2006.

A faller in the Cotswold Chase on her very next start, when she was pitched in against the big boys as a novice, and again at the same point in the race in Denman’s Sun Alliance Chase, she hasn’t quite fulfilled the promise of her novice season. She did give Alexander Taipan and Conna Castle a comprehensive beating in a two-and-a-quarter-mile chase at Thurles last March, but she disappointed when joint favourite for last year’s Irish Grand National. Her last run before Thursday, however, her second run this season, was full of promise, when she finished second to Scotsirish in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork over an inadequate two miles. Her win on Thursday was another step up, and it would not be at all surprising to see her progressing again from here.

There is a chance that her defeat of runner-up Glenfinn Captain will be under-rated a little, as the runner-up made a fairly bad mistake at the last, which caused his rider to lose his right iron and which garnered much of the attention. Punters love unlucky losers. It is impossible to know how the race would have panned out, as Barry Geraghty on the runner-up possibly looked to be travelling slightly easier than Madden down to the last, but Cailin Alainn is so tough, she finds so much that the likelihood is that she would have won anyway.

While the step up to two and a half miles was in her favour, it is probable that she will improve again when stepped up to three miles. It is possible that she is better going right-handed than going left, as she does jump slightly to her right and seven of her eight wins have now been achieved at right-handed tracks. As such, Cheltenham may not be her ideal track, especially given that she has fallen on both of her visits there. It is a pity that she is not entered in the Racing Post Chase at Kempton on February 21st as Kempton is a track at which it is possible to carry high weights (nine of the last 10 winners of the Racing Post Chase have carried 11st or more). She couldn’t have been given a rating of any more than 150 by the UK handicapper, and that would have been just about right for the Racing Post Chase. Wherever she goes next, especially if she races right-handed, she should be worth following again.

29th January, 2009