Horses To Follow » Walkon


Walkon didn’t get the run of the race in the Triumph Hurdle. He made a mistake at the fourth last just as the pace was increasing, with the result that he found himself in behind horses as they went down the hill on the far side. Then, he got distracted when Ebadiyan ran out at the second last flight. He slowed up into the flight as a result, just popped it, and came out of the obstacle two lengths behind Zaynar behind horses on the inside. As a consequence, he had to do a lot of running into a quickening pace around the home turn just to get into a challenging position. When something like this happens at the second last flight in the white-hot heat of a Triumph Hurdle, and you are beaten three parts of a length, it can be hugely significant.

It may be that Alan King’s gelding would not have beaten Zaynar anyway. Nicky Henderson’s horse finds loads for pressure, and even if Walkon had got upsides, Zaynar may have out-battled him anyway, but he really was up against it with the run that he got. It was just that type of week for Alan King, a hit-the-post week – Karabak, Medermit, Voy Por Ustedes all went close as well – until Oh Crick won the last.

If Walkon and Zaynar both go for the Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree, there is every chance that the King horse can exact his revenge. The flatter track will not play to Zaynar’s strengths, and Walkon cannot have as poor a run through the closing stages of a race again. They will both have Starluck to beat, and he will be better suited by the flatter track as well, but Walkon still displayed signs of greenness in the Triumph, and he will come on more than most for that run. They can ride him more aggressively at Aintree as well, and that could see him improve further.

© The Sunday Times, 22nd March, 2009