Horses To Follow » Lochan Lacha

Lochan Lacha

They didn’t go a great gallop in the three-mile handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse on Wednesday, and that wouldn’t have suited Lochan Lacha a great deal. Held up well out the back by Ruby Walsh in the early stages, Tony Martin’s horse was under pressure to make progress down the far side as the pace increased. He is a big strapping chasing type who doesn’t have great gears, and his chance looked a forlorn one when they turned into the straight and he came under pressure as Rebel Chief and Davy Russell went for home. To compound matters, Ruby lost his whip on landing over the second last. Even so, Lochan Lacha is nothing if not willing. He stuck to his task impressively under all that Ruby could muster, including a couple of smacks with his hand in the absence of his whip, and he got up between Rebel Chief and Leading Diamonds inside the final 25 yards to win by a head.

Rated 122 over fences, you would have thought that Lochan Lacha was more than entitled to win this off a mark of 104, but there were several others in the race who were apparently well treated on their chase form (including the runner-up Rebel Chief, rated 126 over fences and racing off a mark of 103 here, and fourth-placed Hoopy, rated 129 over fences and racing off a mark of 100), so it would be dangerous not to give him due credit for this performance. He found three miles and six furlongs on heavy ground beyond him at Punchestown last April on his last run over fences, but he did look good in winning a decent novices’ handicap chase at Fairyhouse on his previous run. He is still only eight, he has run just nine times over fences and, given his trainer’s talent for improving his handicap chasers, there is a real chance that a mark of 122 still under-estimates his ability significantly. Martin said afterwards that his next run will probably be in the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas, and that makes a lot of sense. He has exactly the right profile for that race, as a relatively lightly-raced relatively young chaser who stays well, who is unexposed, who goes into the race in good form and who has been trained for the race, and his rating of 122 is just about right. Odds of 10/1 about him for that contest at present are better than fair.

2nd December 2009

© The Irish Field, 5th December 2009