Horses To Follow » Meath All Star

Meath All Star

Meath All Star put up a fine performance to win the opening maiden hurdle over two and three-quarter miles at Ffos Las on Sunday. Settled nicely just behind the leaders in the early stages on the inside off a slow enough pace that was set on sufferance initially by Horsford, the Gordon Elliott-trained gelding travelled really well down the back straight, jumping well. AP McCoy had to give him a bit of a squeeze on exiting the back straight as the pace increased and they jockeyed for position, plenty of them in with chances. However, he was soon back on the bridle as most of his rivals came off it. He joined the front rank over the third last, he and the Philip Hobbs horse Bescot Springs apparently travelling better than anything else, jumped to the front over the second last, still travelling really well, and came right away on over the last and up the run-in to win really impressively.

The booking of McCoy (four for eight for Elliott in the UK this season up to this) was significant and, while this was not the best maiden hurdle ever run – the presence of the 46-rated flat horse Elusive Muse in third place gives the form a distinctly suspect look – there was still a lot to like about the manner in which Meath All Star travelled and jumped through the race. The son of Presenting was highly thought-of when he was with Willie Mullins. He won a bumper on his racecourse debut at Cork in July 2008 and was quietly fancied for the Cheltenham Bumper last March on his next start (there were only five horses ahead of him in the betting). He was a little disappointing on his first run for Elliott, his debut over hurdles, at Punchestown in October, when he raced a little freely, but he was a lot better stepped up to two and a half miles at Musselburgh next time, when he travelled like a winner at the second last before fading. This was much more like it, he travelled like a winner to the second last and found plenty, and he can go on from this now. He is a chaser in the making, but he jumped his hurdles well here, and he seemed to appreciate the step up in distance. He has raced just five times in his life, he should be even better on better ground and, from the top class Rimell family of Gaye Brief and Gaye Chance, he can continue to improve now.

17th January 2010