Horses To Follow » Arbor Supreme

Arbor Supreme

Arbor Supreme ran a more than satisfactory race on his seasonal debut in the Grade 3 three-mile novices’ hurdle won by his stable companion Quel Esprit at Cork on Sunday. Settled in midfield on the outside of Quel Esprit in the early stages, he and the winner were the only two still on the bridle as the field rounded the home turn. Taken to the outside by Emmet Mullins, he couldn’t go with his stable companion when that one eased through the field, but he still kept on well on the near side under just a hands and heels ride. The winner could be one of the leading staying novice hurdlers around this season, but Arbor Supreme is shaping like a Grand National horse, and this was most encouraging in that regard. He is only seven rising eight, but he is already all stamina, as he proved when he won a three-and-three-quarter-mile chase at Punchestown in April 2008, and again when he won the Porterstown Chase over three and a half miles at Fairyhouse last November. He hasn’t won since, and it was disappointing that he couldn’t beat One Cool Cookie, getting 10lb from him, at Down Royal last March, racing like even that three-and-a-quarter-mile trip was too sharp. He was also disappointing in the Irish National, which is a bit of a worry, although he had been passed over by both Ruby Walsh and Paul Townend in favour of other Mullins runners in that race, so perhaps he was not impressing at home in the lead up to the race. He did bounce back on his final run last season, staying on well to finish third behind Ambobo and Vic Venturi.

Taking that race in isolation for a second, he was getting 4lb from Vic Venturi there, and Dessie Hughes’s horse beat him by less than two lengths. He is now rated 12lb lower than Vic Venturi, which means that, as things stand, as long as the British handicapper doesn’t do something untoward, he will be 8lb better off with that rival in the Grand National if both of them make it there, yet Vic Venturi is a 25/1 shot for the race while you can back Arbor Supreme at 33/1. Furthermore, he should be still improving now as a seven-year-old rising eight, he is better on the better ground that he should get at Aintree than he is in the hock deep ground you get in the winter, and Willie Mullins has an eye on the race for him. It is a bit of a worry that he will only be eight next April, Bindaree is the last eight-year-old to win the National, but eight-year-olds actually don’t do badly for their level of representation, and their placed record is good. Also, his stamina is proven. Willie Mullins knows what it takes to win a National, and don’t be surprised if Arbor Supreme runs only in hurdle races until the National weights are out, but he should be kept in mind in the context of the National, and the 33/1 that Ladbrokes are currently offering about him for the race is fair.

13th December 2009