Horses To Follow » Crack Away Jack

Crack Away Jack

I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the five-year-olds going into the Champion Hurdle this year, I thought that they had it all to prove against the older horses. While my thinking was vindicated by the bare result, on the face of it, my over-riding feeling was that I was wrong, but got away with it, with five-year-olds, who made up just seven of the 22-strong field, just 32% of the field, finishing second, third and fourth.

All the talk afterwards, outside of the winner Punjabi, was about the five-year-olds that finished second and third, Celestial Halo and Binocular, but the horse to take out of the race for me was Crack Away Jack. I was never a huge believer in Emma Lavelle’s gelding before this. I thought that he was top of the second division of juveniles last season, not belonging to the first, and he hadn’t done anything this season to convince me otherwise. His lofty position in the ante post betting for the Champion Hurdle all season was down to bookmakers’ liabilities, not to anything that he had done on the track. However, after his run in the Champion, I am happy to revise that opinion.

The plan was obviously to hold the Gold Away gelding up, but it is very difficult to give away as much ground as he did before he crossed the start line and hope to be competitive in a Champion Hurdle. Well back early on, he made up tremendous ground from the top of the hill, finished best of all and was only beaten about three lengths in the end.

Of course there is a chance that he was a little flattered by the visual impression of this performance, there was an element of him not getting involved in the strong early pace, the one that effectively put paid to the chances of early leaders Osana and Hardy Eustace, and conserving energy for the end of the race. But this was a race in which it didn’t pay to be too far back either. The first three all travelled easily behind the leaders whereas Crack Away Jack was well back in midfield in the early stages. He and Muirhead were the only two horses who made inroads of any sort from the rear, and this was despite the fact that Crack Away Jack was hampered a little on the home turn. He is going chasing next season and, with a rating of 166 over hurdles, the physique of a chaser, an obvious affinity for Cheltenham, and a previous win at the Festival under his girth, and given that he is still just five years old, he has to be the first horse on your shortlist for the 2010 Arkle.

10th March, 2009