Horses To Follow » Souffleur


The winner and the third, respectively Souffleur and Bouggler, were the two to take out of the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday for me. Settled towards the rear and on the inside by Tom O’Brien, Souffleur travelled nicely and jumped particularly well, bar a slight mistake at the last flight on the far side, when he was closing right up on the leaders and his rider appeared to be anxious that he wouldn’t get there too soon. He travelled better than anything else into the home straight and he and Bouggler progressed together on the near side. The pair of them moved on from Kayf Aramis and Cloudy Lane at the second last, and fought out a fair finish over the second last and up the run-in. Souffleur moved across Bouggler a little on the run-in and, although the stewards chose not to take any action, bar suspending the rider for a couple of days, there is a chance that it did make a difference. There was three lengths between them at the line, but the fact that Souffleur was able to bag the stands rail, and that Bouggler had to be switched from the momentum of battle to challenge in the centre of the track, may have made a difference. However, I am happy to believe that, on the balance of probability, the stewards got it right and that Souffleur would have won even without the interference.

A good staying novice hurdler a couple of seasons ago, Souffleur was off the track between November 2008 and November 2009 with leg problems. Returned in Big Buck’s’ Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury, he couldn’t get involved there, nor could he get involved in the handicap hurdle that Time For Rupert won at Cheltenham’s December meeting. However, his last run before Saturday at Ascot was hugely encouraging, when he stayed on well over an inadequate two and a half miles to finish fourth behind Mamlook in a Grade 2 handicap hurdle. He progressed again from that to win on Saturday. All of his best runs have been at tracks like Haydock and Aintree, flat left-handed tracks, so it is probably an astute decision by connections to swerve Cheltenham and concentrate on Aintree this term. He could be a live outsider for the Liverpool Hurdle if he takes his chance in it.

20th February 2010