Horses To Follow » Torphichen


Mentioned here before after he finished second in an amateur riders’ flat race at Galway in October, Torphichen is worthy of another mention after posting a most impressive win in a competitive four-year-old listed two-mile hurdle race at Naas on Thursday. Thomas Barr’s gelding travelled easily and jumped well for Andrew McNamara just behind a decent pace that was set by favourite Ebadiyan. McNamara pulled out from behind horses on the run to the second last, and Torphichen picked up noticeably to join Ebadiyan and Arabella Boy in the front rank on the near side, forming a line of three over the obstacle. McNamara just gave him a squeeze on landing over that obstacle, and the response was really impressive. The injection of pace that he showed on the ground was really impressive, and he quickly went four lengths clear of his rivals on the approach to the final flight. He skipped over that obstacle nicely, and kept on willingly under just a hands and heels ride all the way to the line.

Ebadiyan set a fair standard here. One of the top juvenile hurdlers in Ireland last season, he was still travelling well in one of the hottest Triumph Hurdles run in recent years – in which Zaynar, Walkon, Mourad and Starluck filled the first four places – when he inexplicably ran out on the approach to the second last flight. He was expected to come on for his seasonal debut at Down Royal, and he was backed accordingly. In fairness, Rita Shah’s gelding did make a bad mistake at the last flight on the first circuit, but it is difficult to think that he would have beaten the winner even without that error. In contrast to Ebadiyan, Torphichen was friendless in the market. Put in as 7/4 favourite on the Racing Post tissue, he was 4/1 in the morning and drifted out to an SP of 5/1, all of which suggests that trainer Edward O’Grady and his team expected that he would come on for this, his first run in almost six weeks, and his first run over hurdles since he disappointed when odds-on for a juvenile hurdle at Cheltenham last April on his final start for David Pipe.

The move to Ballynonty has obviously met with the Alhaarth gelding’s approval. He looked like a serious prospect when winning a good juvenile hurdle at Sandown last February, but he disappointed when well fancied and getting all the weight allowances in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and again, as mentioned above, back at Cheltenham in April. He is obviously a horse of some talent – he shaped with a deal of promise, achieving a rating of 85 in just three runs on the flat for Michael Jarvis – and it looks like Edward O’Grady has found the key to him. It would be surprising if he did not improve again significantly on this performance, just his fifth run over hurdles, given how weak he was in the market and the fact that he is still only four, and he will be interesting wherever he goes next. He could be very good indeed.

3rd December 2009

© The Irish Field, 12th December 2009