Horses To Follow » Starluck


Starluck has Christmas Hurdle written all over him now. Two miles on soft ground in a small field at Haydock would not have played to his strengths at all, and yet he still almost beat the highly talented Mr Thriller in the Class 2 hurdle there on Saturday. His jumping wasn’t as fluent as it can be, but he still travelled hard on the steel throughout as Tom Scudamore threw just about everything he had at Mr Thriller in front. Timmy Murphy was motionless on Starluck all the way up the home straight, coasting in behind a flat-to-the-boards Mr Thriller. He jumped the last upsides, Murphy gave him a kick in the belly, and he quickly went two lengths clear and traded at 1/100 in-running, race over. But it wasn’t. Mr Thriller dug even deeper as Starluck tired and idled, and got up in the last strides to pull victory out of the fire. This was still a huge run from Starluck. Mr Thriller is very good in these conditions, he basks in a rating of 161, a stone higher than Starluck’s rating, and they were racing off level weights. The front pair pulled clear of their rivals, and the time of the race was good, almost 0.3secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par. If Timmy Murphy had the race to ride again, he would surely delay Starluck’s challenge until even later, and if he had, the result would probably have been different. It is unlikely that he will go on too early on Alan Fleming’s horse again. Unbeaten in his first three starts last season, fourth in the Triumph Hurdle and a member of what is looking more and more like a vintage crop of juvenile hurdlers, Starluck could now be the new Harchibald.

He is at his best off a fast pace on good ground on a flat track when the emphasis is on speed, not stamina. As such, the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton is made for him. The ground should be better at Kempton on St Stephen’s Day than it was at Haydock on Saturday, there isn’t as much time to think about things on the run-in at Kempton as there is at Haydock, and his turn of foot can be used to maximum effect at the Sunbury track. As a bonus, he won the juvenile hurdle at the Kempton Christmas meeting last year over the Christmas Hurdle course and distance. It could be a hot Christmas Hurdle this year, and people may be nervous about backing Starluck after this run, with the result that he could be allowed go off at a decent price for that race. If he is, he will be interesting.

21st November 2009