Horses To Follow » Silverhand


Silverhand ran a race that was full of credit in the two-mile handicap hurdle at Punchestown last Tuesday. Held up in rear by Luke McNiff, he was travelling kindly until he clipped heels just past the winning post on the first circuit. The horse did well to stand up, but he lost momentum, expended energy and got shuffled back a little in the pack. From there it was always going to be difficult, and he was well in arrears until the third last flight. He made notable headway all the way to the line from that point without ever looking like he was going to get near the easy winner Trucker’s Delight. That said, even though he finished fifth, he was only a length and a half off the runner-up spot.

Silverhand has not been an easy horse with whom to win. Indeed, he hasn’t won since he landed his maiden hurdle on his racecourse debut, some 18 months and 10 runs ago. Perhaps he has just found it difficult competing against his elders this season. However, the Noel Meade team did think a lot of him as a juvenile, he started as short as 12/1 for last year’s Triumph Hurdle and he got to within four lengths of Solwhit at the 2008 Punchestown Festival. He did show markedly improved form this season on his penultimate run at Fairyhouse, when he encountered good ground for the first time since last year’s Punchestown Festival, and was tried in first-time cheekpieces, when he went down by just a neck to his stable companion Fisher Bridge, with last week’s impressive Punchestown winner, Sesenta, just behind in third. That was his most encouraging run in a long time, and provided plenty of optimism about future prospects.

The son of Lend A Hand is almost certainly a lot better than he was able to show at Punchestown. As well as not getting the run of the race, the ground was probably too soft for him there as well. Luke McNiff has ridden him on his last two starts, he has struck up a good relationship with him, and he is big value for his 7lb claim. There could be a decent handicap hurdle in Silverhand now. He isn’t in this afternoon’s Swinton Hurdle, which is a shame, as his current (Irish) mark of 128 should have got him into that race on a nice weight, but he could easily be a Galway Hurdle horse. His current mark should get him into the race in the low to mid-10sts, and that would be ideal.

© The Irish Field, 9th May 2009