Horses To Follow » Kilmurry


Kilmurry was most impressive in winning a Class 2 two-mile novices’ chase at Cheltenham on Saturday. He travelled well in the early stages just behind the leaders, jumped really well, and took it up travelling well at the top of the hill. It looked like he might have a struggle on his hands when the well-fancied Ghizao loomed up just before the home turn, but he picked up again from there and came right away from the Paul Nicholls horse over the final two fences, which he jumped really well with his ears pricked, keeping on really strongly up the hill to post an 11-length victory, with Ghizao coming 20 lengths clear of the third horse Pigeon Island.

This race has been won in the past by Seebald, Puntal, Tramantano, Poquelin and last year by Snap Tie, it is often a good pointer, and Kilmurry won it well. Runner-up Ghizao is a likeable individual, he was a good novice hurdler last season for Paul Nicholls without being top class – he was the only Nicholls representative in the Neptune Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival – and he seemed to be well-fancied here. Third-placed Pigeon Island is a bit of a character, you couldn’t ever accuse him of being a reliable yardstick through which you can rate a race, but he did win the Grand Annual in March over this course and distance, he was running well in this race last year when he came down at the second last, his yard is flying, and he was well beaten in third place.

Winner of his maiden hurdle on heavy ground at Thurles last November, Kilmurry was a nicely progressive novice chaser through the summer for Henry de Bromhead. A terrific jumper of fences, he was an impressive winner at the Galway Festival, when he had subsequent dual chase winner Wise Old Owl well back in second place and subsequent hurdle winner Wikaala back in third, and he went back to Galway a month later to win well again. He is not overly big, but he does jump quickly and accurately. If you were to be harsh, you could point to the fact that he was a little to his right at most of his obstacles, he will probably be even better-suited to going right-handed, but he proved on Saturday, on his debut for Colin Tizzaard, that he can go left-handed as well, his jumping was as good at Cheltenham as it had been at Galway, and he seemed to relish the uphill finish.

A good test over two miles is probably his optimum. He generally races handily, but he doesn’t have to lead, he can just sit in behind the pace and, while he has proven that he handles soft ground, he is probably at his best on good ground, when the value of his efficient jumping can be maximised. He was giving 8lb to all his rivals on Saturday with the exception of Pigeon Island, and he beat them all well in a good time. He is still only five, this was just his fourth chase, and he could prove to be a really exciting novice chaser this term. He is good over two miles, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him step up to two and a half miles later in the season. The Wayward Lad Chase at Kempton’s Christmas Festival, at a tight right-handed track where the ability to travel and jump is key, and which is usually staged on ground that isn’t too soft, would be a suitable medium-range target.

16th October 2010

© The Irish Field, 23rd October 2010