Horses To Follow » Siegemaster


Siegemaster ran a massive race in the Thestes Chase at Gowran Park on Thursday. The form book says that the Gigginstown House horse finished third, five lengths behind Whinstone Boy, but that doesn’t do justice to the quality of his effort. He and Whinstone Boy had it between them from a long way out. Indeed, you could argue that nothing else really got into the race. They traded blows for the lead the whole way round, for two circuits of the Gowran track, but not at a breakneck pace. On the contrary, the early pace was so forgiving that all 17 runners were hacking along happily at the end of a circuit, and at least 12 of them could have easily fancied their chances going along the top of the track with just four to jump. However, Whinstone Boy and Siegemaster picked up the pace from that point into the home straight, and it never really looked like anything else was going to get near them. It was impossible to call the winner going to the third last – in fact it was Siegemaster who picked up marginally in front at that obstacle – but a mistake by Siegemaster there, from which Davy Russell did well to remain on board, handed the initiative to the Jimmy Mangan horse. They jumped the second last as one, but Whinstone Boy had begun to get on top by the time they jumped the last, where Siegemaster made another mistake, and he was caught by the other Gigginstown House horse Hangover for second place.

This was a huge effort by the Dessie Hughes-trained gelding under 11st 8lb. You simply don’t win the Thyestes of that type of weight. To put it into context, none of the last nine winners of the race carried more than 10st 10lb, and only two horses have finished in the first three with 11st or more on their backs. Also, no horse rated higher than 135 has won the race in the last 10 years, so Siegemaster’s rating of 144 made it very difficult for him. Up 6lb for his run to finish second to Oscar Time in the Paddy Power Chase on his previous run, the handicapper raised him another 4lb for this, but he is a classy individual who is still progressive in staying chases at the age of nine. Some of his best runs have been on heavy ground, but he coped well with good ground when he finished third behind Killyglen in the Mildmay Chase at Aintree last April on good ground, after travelling like a winner to the third last. He could be a Grand National horse this term. With Notre Pere a possible runner in the Grand National this year, his new rating should see him get into the race on a lovely racing weight. (Going on their current marks, if Notre Pere carried top weight of 11st 10lb, Siegemaster would be set to shoulder 10st 9lb), and that would be ideal. He stays well and he ran well at Aintree last year. He isn’t quoted by many bookmakers, but his current odds on Betfair would be massive if you knew that the National was on Dessie Hughes’s radar.

21st January 2010

© The Irish Field, 30th January 2010