Horses To Follow » Silverhand


The Carroll brothers, Gary and Tim, fought out the finish of the Irish Cesarewitch at The Curragh on Sunday, Gary on Dani California just proving stronger than Tim on Silverhand, with both of them going on from Zaralabad in third. In truth, all three emerge from the race with credit, all three travelled well into the home straight, and they were the only three horses in a field of 29 who were still on the bridle passing the three-furlong pole. Of the three, however, Silverhand just shades it for me with the future in mind. The Noel Meade-trained gelding has been most progressive now in his last three runs on the flat. Three runs ago, he broke his maiden fairly emphatically at Tramore in the middle of August on his first run on the flat since last September, and just his second ever, and he ran out a good winner of a decent premier handicap over a mile and six furlongs at The Curragh on St Leger day on his last run before Sunday off a mark of 90. He raced off a 7lb higher mark on Sunday, and he was almost up to the task. Tim Carroll had to pull him fairly wide in the home straight in order to get a clear run at it. Three lengths behind Dani California passing the two-furlong pole, he made relentless headway on the near side all the way to the line despite drifting to his left, and only went down by three parts of a length to an in-form mare.

Silverhand has always been held in high regard by Noel Meade. Good enough to contest the Triumph Hurdle in 2008 after just two prior runs over hurdles, when he was sent off the 12/1 fifth favourite, he just didn’t jump well enough there to be competitive, but he returned to Punchestown six weeks later and finished second Solwhit in a really decent hurdle race, when he actually had Dani California well behind him. It is disappointing that he hasn’t managed to win over hurdles since, but he did shape with a deal of promise at Fairyhouse and Punchestown during the spring, and the combination of two and a half miles, heavy ground and a stiff track probably stretched his stamina beyond its limit at Galway at the end of August on his only try over hurdles since he ran in the Galway Hurdle itself, when he was hampered early on. It may be that, now that he has got his eye in on the flat, he will be able to translate the improvement that he has shown to the winter game. He will be interesting back over hurdles now in the early part of the new National Hunt season. And if his trainer decides to run him again on the flat before the end of the season, even off an inevitable higher mark than Sunday’s, he should be worth watching.

27th September 2009