Horses To Follow » Issaquah


The Malcolm Jefferson-trained Issaquah put in her best performance for some time to land a two-mile handicap hurdle at Market Rasen on Tuesday. Sent to the front from flagfall by 5lb claimer James Halliday, just as he had done on the trainer’s Pakanokat, a half-sister to Issaquah actually, in the first race on the card, she got the first flight all wrong, but that was really her only mistake. She was quickly into a nice rhythm after that, her jumping was fast and fluent down the back straight, if a little to her right, when she stretched the field out before stacking her field up a little going around the top turn. Given a squeeze by her rider on the run to the second last, she picked up nicely again and quickly had all of her rivals under pressure. She quickened well between the last two flights, jumped the last well, and went right away from her rivals on the long run-in.

This was a fine performance. The right horses finished second and third, the two market leaders Irish Symphony and Lightening Rod, both of whom looked well-handicapped having run well last week after the time that the handicapper could re-assess them for Tuesday’s race. Issaquah beat that pair by an easy six lengths, and there were 11 lengths back to the fourth horse. Winner of two of her four bumpers, Issaquah won her first three runs over hurdles in the early part of last season, but put in a career-best at Aintree last April when she got to within a short head of Culcabock in the Grade 2 conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle, when she had good horses like Hot Diamond, Qozak, Awesome George, Fairyland, Oldrik and Seven Is My Number behind her.

She has been largely disappointing since, but she did hint at a return to form at Newcastle on her last run before Tuesday, and she was well backed just before the off, from the 8/1 that was freely available about her five or six minutes before they set off, down to an SP of 5/1. She could go back to Aintree for that conditional jockeys’ race – she was back down to a mark of 125 for Tuesday, and she was rated 127 for Aintree last year. James Halliday is a good conditional and obviously gets on well with her. She would be interesting in whatever race she contests at Aintree, she is proven at the track, and she did show a tendency to jump to her left here, so the left-handed configuration of Aintree will be much more suitable than Market Rasen’s right-handed orientation. She obviously also likes a flat track.

30th March 2010

© The Irish Field, 3rd April 2010