Horses To Follow » Mourad


Mourad impressed in winning the two-and-a-half-mile conditions hurdle at Punchestown on Wednesday. It looked like Rubi Light and Andrew Lynch may have stolen the race, as they kicked on from flagfall and still had a fair break over Mourad going over the third last, but Ruby Walsh was just biding his time on the favourite, he just eased him into the race, closed up rapidly on the run to the home turn, took it up on the run to the last and came clear.

Of course, Mourad was entitled to win this. He was meeting Rubi Light on 23lb better terms than if this had been a handicap, and he was meeting the third horse Across The Bay on 13lb better terms, but it was important for his career that he did it as well as he did. He has been disappointing this season, finishing second in all three of his starts, one on the flat and two over hurdles, each time sent off at even money or shorter, and he was beginning to look like a little bit of an under-achiever. However, this step up to two and a half miles for the first time may have been the key to him. He is a classy individual, he is a leading light in what was probably a top class group of juvenile hurdlers last season, finishing third in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last March, just about three lengths behind Zaynar and Walkon and the same distance in front of Starluck, a top class run given the exploits of those three horses since. It may be that he just doesn’t have the gears to be effective over the minimum distance now that he is competing against older horses. A half-brother to Mourayan and Mourilyan, out of a Prix de Royallieu winner, he is a dual winner over a mile and a half on the flat, so it shouldn’t be surprising that stamina rather than speed would be his main asset over hurdles. It is interesting that Willie Mullins has entered him in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham and not the Champion. It is difficult for five-year-olds in the World Hurdle, but he could improve again for stepping up another half-mile in trip and, if he did, he would be well worth his place in the line-up for that contest. He is a classy individual, and best odds of 40/1 for the World Hurdle are interesting.

20th January 2010