Horses To Follow » Eleazar


A really progressive horse two seasons ago, Eleazar overcame an absence of 511 days due to sprained tendons to land the opener at Kempton on Saturday, the Class 3 two-mile-five-furlong handicap hurdle. Settled just behind confirmed front-runner Aimigayle in the early stages, the eight-year-old gelding travelled well throughout. A slight mistake at the last flight in the back straight caused him to lose a little momentum, but he was back on the bridle around the home turn, still tracking Aimigayle, travelling better than anything else in the race. The question was whether or not he would find as much as it looked like he would after such a long absence, and he was given every chance to chuck it when he got in tight to the last flight and landed flat-footed as the favourite, Thundering Rock, flew it on the near side under Ruby Walsh. However, Thundering Rock didn’t go on as it looked like he might, and Eleazar found an admirable amount to pick up and deny the favourite and the fast-finishing Dansimar.

This form is solid. Runner-up Dansimar is a highly progressive mare and Thundering Star was well fancied and well backed. Eleazar, a German import, won his third last and second last starts in the 2006/07 season before stepping up again on those performances to finish third behind subsequent Dovecote Hurdle winner Pigeon Island in a valuable contest at Market Rasen in September 2007. We didn’t see him again after that until last Saturday.

On this evidence, he remains highly progressive. He was racing off a 5lb lower mark on Saturday than the mark off which he raced at Market Rasen. He has been raised 7lb for this performance, but that still leaves him just 2lb above his Market Rasen mark, and actually 3lb below the mark to which he was raised after he finished third in that contest. He is still potentially well handicapped and, although he is eight years old, he can progress again. He is entered in the Coral Cup and in the new Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ race at Cheltenham, but his four wins over hurdles now have been at Haydock (twice), Bangor and now Kempton, all flat tracks, and he might be more of an Aintree horse than a Cheltenham horse this year. He has won at Haydock twice, so he could be one for a race there, perhaps the Swinton Hurdle in May.

© The Irish Field, 28th February, 2009