Horses To Follow » Bouggler


Bouggler ran a cracker to finish third behind Souffleur and Kayf Aramis in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday. He had to be ridden along a little rounding the home turn, he didn’t travel as well as Souffleur turning in, but he found plenty for pressure, and it was soon apparent that he and the winner were going to have it between them. The pair of them jumped on over the second last and had a right scrap over the last and up the run-in. Souffleur was continually leaning in on Bouggler and, although less than a length down, Aidan Coleman had to snatch up Bouggler about 150 yards out, as Souffleur took his ground, and switch to the far side, losing so much momentum in the process that he couldn’t get going again and actually lost out on second place to Kayf Aramis.

It is not certain that Souffleur wouldn’t have won anyway, but there is a chance that Bouggler would have beaten him. The margin of defeat was three lengths in the end, but you can’t know how much ground or will-to-win a horse loses when he has to be snatched up in the heat of battle. Even in finishing third, it was a huge run from Bouggler. Souffleur and Kayf Aramis are proven high class performers, and the trio pulled well clear of their field. There was a lot to like about the manner in which Bouggler stayed on, the gritty determination with which he matched Souffleur over the last two flights, and the time of the race was really good, the fastest comparative time of the day and 0.25secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par. Bouggler was beaten three lengths, but we will never know how much he lost in the scrimmaging, he may even have won, he may have posted an even faster time.

Remarkably, Bouggler is only five. No better than an ordinary novice hurdler early last season, he improved markedly to win at Kempton last February when stepped up to two and a half miles for the first time, and he followed up again when he battled on well to beat Copper Bleu in the Grade 2 Mersey Hurdle over the same distance at the Aintree Grand National meeting. Surprisingly for a son of Tobougg from the family of Kris and Diesis (his racecourse debut was in a seven-furlong maiden) he has improved again this season for stepping up to three miles, finishing fourth behind Tidal Bay and Time For Rupert – two live World Hurdle contenders – in the Cleeve Hurdle in January on his first try at the trip and his last run before Saturday. He is still only five and has raced just seven times over hurdles, so it would not be at all surprising if there was significant improvement still to come from him at staying trips over hurdles. If he skips Cheltenham, he could be a live outsider for the Liverpool Hurdle back at Aintree, where he would be getting weight from the Grade 1 winners who perhaps would be a little battle-weary three weeks after Cheltenham.

20th February 2010

© The Irish Field, 27th February 2010