Horses To Follow » Kilcrea Castle

Kilcrea Castle

Kilcrea Castle ran a nice race to finish third behind The Sawyer and Miss Mitch in the two-mile-five-and-a-half-furlong handicap chase at Ascot last Saturday. Held up out the back in the early stages by Jack Doyle off a fairly frenetic early pace, he jumped well, made nice progress up the side of the track, and moved nicely in behind the leaders on the way to the home turn. He closed on The Sawyer ominously, but just didn’t find as much as it looked like he would on the run to the second last, and he only kept on over the last two fences, losing the runner-up spot to Miss Mitch on the run-in.

This was still a fine run. It is probable that the son of Windsor Castle just needed the run. It was his first run since last October, and his stamina shouldn’t have been stretched beyond its limit, given that he won two point-to-points, and that he was twice a winner over fences over two and a half miles on soft ground in Ireland. On top of that, this was his first run for Emma Lavelle, and he was weak in the market beforehand, drifting from morning prices of 6/1 to an SP of 10/1, so it is reasonable to expect that there is more to come. The handicapper raised him 1lb to a mark of 142, which is fair enough – he was beaten only four lengths by Schindlers Hunt off a mark of 139 in the Leopardstown Handicap Chase last January, and that horse was beaten three lengths in the Ryanair Chase and a head in the Melling Chase on two of his three subsequent outings. He stays two and a half miles well, he was only beaten a length by Casey Jones in a Grade 3 contest at Punchestown last October on his only try at three miles under rules and, from the family of Harbour Pilot and Monty’s Pass, there is every chance that he will improve for stepping back up to three miles now. He handles good ground as well as soft, and he will be interesting wherever he goes next. He could be a Racing Post Chase horse, he is the right age for the race (the last three winners were all eight), his rating of 142 should see him get into the race on a good racing weight, around the 11st mark, which is a good weight for the race (three of the last four winners were rated between 143 and 147), he is at his best on goodish ground, and he goes well right-handed. There is no ante post market on the race yet, but when they do start betting on it, he could be overlooked, they could put him in quite big, in which case he would be very interesting.

23rd January 2010