Horses To Follow » Silk Affair

Silk Affair

Silk Affair ran out an impressive winner of a two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Sandown on Friday. Held up out the back and kept to the outside by Tom O’Brien in the early stages, she got caught in behind horses in a little bit of scrimmaging as they left the back straight. No better than 13th or 14th as they rounded the home turn, her jockey didn’t panic, he sat in behind horses all the way around the home turn instead of using up enery going around them, but once they straightened up and he asked the mare for her effort, the response was impressive if not quite immediate. Still eight lengths down on the approach to the second last, she made impressive progress between the final two flights to jump the last just a length and a half behind the leader Suntini. She took it up no more than 25 yards after that flight and powered up the hill to win, going away, by four lengths.

Silk Affair was a decent performer on the flat, rated 89 on turf and 92 on the all-weather, and thought good enough to merit a place in the line-up for the Irish Oaks last July. It was disappointing that she couldn’t win a winnable-looking contest on her at Folkestone on her second run over hurdles after running well behind Starluck on her debut, but she went a little way towards putting that right with an emphatic win at Towcester subsequently, albeit in a Class 4 contest. Her win on Friday was a huge step forward from that.

She raced off a mark of 110 on Friday, which clearly under-estimated her ability. The handicapper will probably give her something between 9lb and 12lb for that win, which would leave her on a mark of between 119 and 122, which should see her get into the Fred Winter Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival towards the bottom of the handicap, and she would be of huge interest for that race if that was the route that her connections chose to go down. It is a little bit of a worry that both of her wins over hurdles and her sole win on the flat have been gained on soft or heavy ground, but she seemed to handle good ground okay on her hurdling debut at Kempton in December. Her undoubted stamina will be a big asset at Cheltenham.

13th February, 2009