Horses To Follow » Arvika Ligeonniere

Arvika Ligeonniere

Arvika Ligeonniere ran a really nice race in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle on Friday. The rain that fell before the race, on top of the artificially watered ground, probably helped him quite a bit given that all four of his previous runs had been on heavy ground, but there was still a lot to like about his performance. The apparent fourth string from the Willie Mullins yard, he settled and travelled really well for Davy Condon on the inside, jumped well, and moved up through his field at the top of the hill. Nothing travelled better on the run down the hill to the second last, and he jumped that flight just a length behind the leader Restless Harry. He came under pressure on the run around the home turn, however, and, although he got to within a neck of the leader, Berties Dream and Najaf were responding to pressure around him, and he couldn’t match that pair for stamina. He began to tread water on the run to the last, and he probably would have finished sixth had Restless Harry not fallen at the last and brought down Arvika Ligeonniere’s stable companion Fionnegas, who was staying on well, but it was still a huge performance from one so inexperienced.

Arvika Ligeonniere is only five, and was having just his third run over hurdles and just his fifth run under all codes. Contrast this with the winner, Berties Dream, a seven-year-old who was racing over hurdles for the 15th time, the runner-up Najaf, who is also just five but was having his seventh run over hurdles, and the third horse Kennel Hill, and eight-year-old who was racing for the 24th time. The ground was officially good, but race times suggest that it was almost soft, which turned this contest, a three-mile hurdle for novices, into a bit of a war of attrition. It was all too much for Arvika Ligeonniere in the end, but he travelled like a very good horse through the race. He may get this type of trip in time, and he did stay on well to win a two-and-a-half-mile novices’ hurdle on heavy ground at Fairyhouse in January, but two and a half miles on this sort of ground may be as far as he wants to go for now. That said, he has the size and scope of a staying chaser, and he can do even better when he learns to settle better, which he should do with experience. He could be one for the Grade 1 two-and-a-half-mile novices’ hurdle at Punchestown – although Willie Mullins could probably have a half a dozen horses for that race – and he is a really exciting staying novice chaser for next season.

19th March 2010

© The Irish Field, 27th March 2010