Horses To Follow » Phidippides


Phidippides was only narrowly touched off on his first run over fences in an extended two-mile-one-furlong novices’ chase at Exeter last Tuesday by the potentially really useful Rock Noir over a trip that is likely to prove way short of his best. Although Rock Noir was clearly travelling better up the long home straight, Phidippides made him really work for victory from the back of the last.

The Evan Williams-trained gelding jumped accurately and quickly for one on his fencing bow, even if he was slightly bold at one or two. He travelled well into the straight and took it up from Qozak just before the third last fence. He was immediately pressed and soon passed by Rock Noir, but he battled on really well all the way to the line. He still looked green at times through the race, but that is understandable given this was only his fifth ever run, and he kept his concentration well for one so inexperienced up the straight. The winner, Rock Noir, could well turn out to be high class over fences – he was rated 152 for his British debut over hurdles in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham last year – while the third horse Qozak, who was a 146-rated hurdler, finished 19 lengths behind Phidippides.

Phidippides’ season was restricted to just three runs last year, having finished a very encouraging third in a bumper in January 2009 behind General Miller who went on to win the Grade 2 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree last season. Phidippides won his first two races over hurdles, the first an introductory hurdle and the second a novices’ hurdle at Kempton over two miles five furlongs, where he took the notable scalp of Quantativeeasing. The Presenting gelding was subsequently found out in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree, but that was a brutal race and can he can easily be forgiven his running there at that stage of his career.

He should be all the better for this experience, he will be better stepped up in trip, his jumping may well improve slightly too and he should develop into a nice novice chaser this season.

2nd November 2010