Horses To Follow » Micheal Flips

Micheal Flips

Micheal Flips ran out a really impressive winner of the Lanzarote Hurdle, run over two miles and five furlongs at Kempton on Saturday. There were concerns surrounding the ground and the distance for Andy Turnell’s gelding going into the race. He had never run on ground softer than good to soft before, and the two best runs of his life were on good ground, while he had only been beyond two miles once before, when he shaped like a non-stayer in the Mersy Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree last April.

Settled towards the rear in the early stages by Nick Schofield off a very sedate pace, right up against the inside on possibly the worst of the ground (although Novikov charted a similar passage in the finale, so perhaps the ground wasn’t soft enough on the inside to counteract the benefit gained from going the shortest way), the son of Kayf Tara travelled really well through the race and his hurdling was fast and fluent. He made nice progress down the far side to nose his way up just in behind leader Gee Dee Nen as the pace increased. He jumped the two flights down the side of the course well and moved up ominously on the outside of Gee Dee Nen rounding the home turn as everything else came under pressure. From there, it was really just a case of whether or not he would see out the trip on the ground. The slow early gallop probably helped him in that regard, because once he took it up at the top of the home straight and moved towards the stands rail, it never looked like he would be caught. Top weight Duc De Regniere stayed on gallantly over the final two flights, the slow early gallop probably against him, but it never looked like he was going to catch the winner.

Micheal Flips is interesting again now. A really exciting novice hurdler early last season, he ran disappointingly when he was well fancied for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham. He ran well on his debut this term at Ascot in October, and he ran better than his finishing position in sixth place suggests in the Gerry Fielden Hurdle at Newbury on Hennessy weekend, but the step up to an extended two and a half miles here seemed to bring about even further improvement. The handicapper has raised him 10lb for this, but he is progressive now, he is still only six, and he should be able to progress further now over two and a half miles. He could be one for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham, although it is worth bearing in mind that the three best runs of his career have been at right-handed tracks.

16th January 2010