Horses To Follow » Ballabriggs


Ballabriggs ran a nice race to finish third behind Tarateeno in a three-mile hurdle at Uttoxeter on Friday. Kept to the outside throughout by Jason Maguire, he travelled really well throughout, he cruised into the home straight on the near side as Tarateeno and Callerlilly came under pressure on the far side, and looked the most likely winner from that point. However, his challenge faded from there, and Maguire wasn’t at all hard on him once his winning chance had gone, but he still finished third, well clear of the remainder of the field.

Significantly, this was Ballabriggs’s first run in 407 days. He is a big scopey horse, with a real look of a staying chaser about him, and he always comes on for his seasonal debut, so it is reasonable to expect a fair improvement from this run after such a long time on the sidelines. Winner of a good three-mile beginners’ chase at Bangor in March 2008 and second behind Merigo in a Class 2 contest that April, when he had that year’s Jewson Chase favourite Mr Strachan behind in third, he only ran once last season, disappointingly, at Haydock in November, when he reportedly injured his back. Given that he is owned by Trevor Hemmings, the objective of this run over hurdles was almost certainly to set him up for staying chases later in the season. He is rated 11lb higher over fences than he is over hurdles but, unsurprisingly, he is a better chaser than he is a hurdler. He has raced just eight times over fences, and he should be progressive enough now to out-perform his handicap rating of 119 over fences. He handles soft ground well, and he will be interesting now in a staying handicap chase next.

18th December 2009