Horses To Follow » Honest John

Honest John

Honest John put up a good performance to win a two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Southwell on Tuesday. After winning the battle with Echo Point for the early lead, he settled into a nice rhythm for Andrew Glassonbury. Kicking clear at the fourth last, he soon had the race put to bed, and a mistake at the second last was the only real worry that his supporters had from that point on.

Steve Gollings’s gelding shaped like a real stayer last season as a novice, putting up his best performance when he beat Gee Dee Nen in a three-and-a-quarter-mile hurdle at Catterick in January 2009, but he was disappointing thereafter, albeit when highly tried in races like the Sefton Hurdle at Aintree and the Long Distance Hurdle at Haydock on Swinton Hurdle day. He hadn’t shaped with a great deal of promise this season either before Tuesday, getting well beaten at Market Rasen in November and then looking well beaten also in Sir Harry Ormesher’s void race at Doncaster in December on his previous start. This was much more like it. It was his first run in 73 days, and his first win since that win at Catterick over a year ago.

Surprisingly, Honest John is still only six and is relatively lightly-raced, having run just nine times over hurdles to date. This was a huge step up on anything that he had done for a year, and he is interesting again now. His trainer says that he is probably more effective over this trip than he is over three miles, that he has pace, and that may well be the case, as long as he is ridden aggressively like this. He has the two-and-a-half-mile handicap at Aintree in mind for him now, and that makes a lot of sense, Southwell is a left-handed flat track like Aintree and, probably more importantly, Honest John won the Aintree Bumper in 2008 when trained by Tom Tate, when he had the likes of Cape Tribulation and Copper Bleu behind him. He is sure to go up a fair bit from his current mark of 122, but he is potentially a high class individual and he should be able to cope with a decent hike.

23rd February 2010