Horses To Follow » Great Endeavour

Great Endeavour

Great Endeavour put in a big performance to win the Byrne Group Plate at Cheltenham on Thursday. The early pace was fast and fairly unrelenting, so it wasn’t ideal for Great Endeavour that he hunted up the leaders in the early stages and joined in the tussle for the lead going down the back straight. None of the other horses who helped set or force the early pace, The Sawyer, Atouchbetweenacara or Mister McGoldrick, were involved in the finish – in fairness to the 13-year-old Mister McGoldrick, he again confounded the analysts, like he did in this race two years ago, by keeping on well to finish fourth, but he was a beaten horse at the third last – so it was to Great Endeavour’s immense credit that he was able to stay on as well as he did to win the race. He travelled and jumped well for Danny Cook in the early stages, responded well when his rider asked him to pick up going down the hill, took it up at the second last and kept on really well over the last and up the run-in. Sunnyhillboy did look a little unlucky, he was further back than ideal when they started down the hill and he finished to some effect to take second place from what looked like an impossible position rounding the home turn, but he probably benefited from being held up off a fast pace, and he actually wasn’t gaining at all on the winner inside the last 50 yards. There is a chance that Great Endeavour idled on the run-in, and when he felt other horses coming to him, he seemed to pick up again, sticking his neck out and displaying a really likeable willing attitude that augurs well for him for the future. Also, the presence of the well-fancied and well-backed Sunnyhillboy in second place adds solidity to the form of the race, as does the fact that it was run in such a good time, four seconds faster than the Jewson Chase and three seconds faster than the Ryanair Chase, both run over the same course and distance earlier in the day.

A three-time winner over hurdles last season as a novice before disappointing in the Coral Cup, the son of Great Palm kicked off this season by running a cracker on unsuitably soft ground to finish a close-up third behind Lie Forrit and Earth Planet in the three-mile handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s November meeting. His future was always over fences, however, and he got off the mark at the first time of asking at Towcester two weeks later, again on unsuitably soft ground. He had been beaten in his two starts between then and Thursday, but both of those races were also run in testing conditions, and he seemed to appreciate the much better ground at Cheltenham. He is obviously in for a hike now from his current mark of 135, but he is only six, this was just his fourth run over fences, and he should be able to progress significantly now. He is bred for further, he races like he will be even better when he steps up in trip, he will be of interest if he races again this season and he is an exciting chaser for next term. The Hennessy Gold Cup would be an ideal early-season target.

18th March 2010

© The Irish Field, 20th March 2010