Horses To Follow » Ski Sunday

Ski Sunday

Ski Sunday would have been an impressive winner of the Anniversary Hurdle at Liverpool on Thursday, conqueror of Starluck and Hebridean, were it not for the presence of Walkon.

A little free in the early stages in the hands of Seamus Durack, he wasn’t fluent over the first couple of flights, getting in particularly tight to the last flight on the first circuit, but he settled a lot better going down the back straight, and jumped more fluently and more easily when he did. He made nice progress through the field to just about take it up on the rail as they left the back straight. Once there, he was a sitting duck for Walkon, but the pair of them pulled away from Starluck, who looked a big threat when he progressed to take third behind the leading pair, before failing to deliver on the promise of that move. A mistake at the second last effectively ended Ski Sunday’s slim chance of beating the powerhouse that is Walkon, but he still kept on well to the line, and he finished clear of Starluck in third.

A winner on the all-weather for Michael Jarvis and Sheikh Ahmed Al Makhtoum, the son of King’s Best has been busy since he joined Tim Vaughan at the start of this season. He has now run seven times over hurdles and, with the obvious exception of his fall early on at Sandown on his second start, he has progressed with each run. On his last run before last Thursday, he stayed on well up the hill to finish second to Silk Affair in the Fred Winter Hurdle at Cheltenham, giving her 11lb, and his run at Aintree was another step forward from that. His trainer says that he will run again now before the end of the season, either in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at Ayr on 18th April or in the Swinton Hurdle at Haydock early next month.

Not many four-year-olds run in the Scottish Champion Hurdle. Indeed, only two have run in it since 2002 when the juvenile Vol Solitaire got beaten a short head by Milligan from 7lb out of the handicap. Like Ski Sunday, Vol Solitaire had had a busy time of it during his juvenile campaign, and he was sufficiently battle-hardened to be kept on the go and to take on his elders in a limited handicap at the end of the season. The handicapper will undoubtedly raise Ski Sunday’s mark from 142 for his Aintree effort, but even a mark in the high 140s would see him get into the Scottish Champion Hurdle with a racing weight, and he remains progressive enough to take at least a moderate hike in his stride. He handles good ground and soft ground, and he could be a major player at Ayr.

2nd April 2009