Horses To Follow » Mr Strachan

Mr Strachan

Mr Strachan did well to win the three-mile handicap chase at Hexham on Wednesday. Settled in on the inside just behind the well-backed favourite Huka Lodge, Sue Smith’s gelding jumped well in the main and travelled well throughout as one by one his rivals in behind came off the bridle. With fully a circuit to go, Mr Strachan and the leader Huka Lodge were the only two who weren’t being urged along. Mr Strachan got the first in close to the first fence in the back straight, and that handed the initiative to the leader, and a fast jump at the last in the back straight, the second last fence in all, saw him go three lengths clear as Mr Strachan played catch up. Another fiddly jump at the last seemed to do it for Mr Strachan, Huka Lodge came away from the fence running and went three lengths up again, but Mr Strachan dug deep and battled on well to get up and win by a length.

This was a fine effort. Huka Lodge may be 12 years old, almost 13, but he came into this race in really good form, having won on his only start this term, his first for his new trainer James Ewart, who is flying these days, he loves heavy ground and he was well fancied and well backed. Mr Strachan beat him on merit, despite making little mistakes at crucial stages in the race, and the pair of them finished miles clear of their rivals. Mr Strachan is beginning to run back into form now. He was a really progressive novice, he was actually favourite for the 2008 Jewson Chase at Cheltenham, off a mark of 134, when he fell. Off the track for almost all of last season, this was just his third start this term. He raced off a mark of 127 here, 7lb lower than the mark off which he raced in the Jewson and 5lb lower than his rating over hurdles, so he should be able for a hike of 7lb or so from the handicapper. He stays three miles well, he handles soft ground, and Sue Smith’s horses are just beginning to hit form again after a fairly quiet spell. He will be interesting wherever he goes next.

9th December 2009