Horses To Follow » Big Eared Fran

Big Eared Fran

Big Eared Fran ran out an impressive winner of the hot Grade 3 novices’ handicap hurdle at Sandown on Saturday. Anchored out the back in the early stages by Andrew McNamara, he made smooth headway around the home turn, took it up on the run to the last, and stayed on really well up the hill to win by a comfortable three lengths. The early pace was slow in this race, and you usually don’t want to be too far back off a slow pace when the sprint for home develops, but Big Eared Fran settled well for McNamara and had little difficulty making his ground, leaving the lasting impression that he is a classy individual and one for the future.

Considered good enough to contest last year’s Cheltenham Bumper (by far the better-fancied of David Pipe’s two runners and the choice of AP McCoy) after he had landed his bumper on his racecourse debut at Sandown, he fell when travelling really well in Dee Ee Williams’s race at Cheltenham in October. On his last run before last Saturday, he got to within six lengths of the highly promising Venetia Williams horse Aachen, who has been quietly backed for the County Hurdle over the last couple of days, when his jockey wasn’t too hard on him once his winning chance had gone. Saturday was his handicap debut, and he was obviously under-rated on his mark of 128. The handicapper has raised him just 9lb, which looks decidedly fair. There is plenty more improvement left in him.

He needs just five horses to come out of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on Friday at Cheltenham in order to allow him get into the race, and he would be worth more than a second glance there if he gets in and the trainer allows him take his chance. He would be just 4lb well-in on the book, but he may have a fair bit more in hand than that.

7th March, 2009