Horses To Follow » Alaivan


Alaivan put up a nice performance to win the two-mile listed hurdle at Naas on Wednesday. A little keen in the early stages up on the outside of the leader Son Amix, he dropped the bridle turning away from the stands as he was able to tuck in behind Tom Cooper’s horse, who took them along at a nice pace. Alaivan’s jumping was good, he was fast and accurate over his obstacles. He travelled well in the leader’s slipstream until just before the home turn, when Andrew McNamara took him to the outside of the grey horse and he just about pulled himself into the lead. He picked up nicely between the final two flights to go on by three lengths, and he kept on well all the way to the line to win well.

This was a nice performance from the Edward O’Grady-trained gelding. There were just six runners, but Son Amix is useful, a 130-rated hurdler who was fourth in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham last March and who ran Shinrock Paddy to a length on his debut this season, albeit in receipt of plenty of weight, and Alaivan beat him well, the pair of them finishing clear of Leblon, another decent performer who gave Aitmatov a race on her previous outing, but who just couldn’t get close enough to land a blow here. Also, the race was run at a decent pace, so the form looks solid. An exciting recruit to hurdles last year, a 109-rated listed race winner on the flat, Alaivan was disappointing on the face of it when he was well beaten by Carlito Brigante in the Grade 2 juvenile hurdle at Leopardstown on St Stephen’s Day last year, but he raced very freely that day, and he bounced back from that to win a Grade 2 contest at Fairyhouse last February before finishing third in the Triumph Hurdle in March.

The ground was heavy when he won that listed race for John Oxx on the flat, and his best runs over hurdles have been on really soft ground, so he should prove to be at his best now in the middle of the winter rather than at the spring festivals. It is never easy for four-going-five-year-old hurdlers in their Sophomore year, but this fellow could still be worth following now stepped up in grade again. He proved here that he is over whatever ailed him when he disappointed on his latest run in the Prix Amadou at Auteuil in May, but he still has a tendency to want to get on with things, so he should be seen to best effect in big fields where a good pace is almost assured. He is rated 140 now, the handicapper shouldn’t be too hard on him for this (he was an 8/11 shot), so one of the big handicaps could be on his agenda. The Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot on 18th December is an option, but he would be of even greater interest if he was targeted at the Totesport Trophy at Newbury in February, a really valuable handicap hurdle, usually run on soft ground, in which five-year-olds have an excellent record. A rating of in or around 140 should see him get into that contest on a nice racing weight.

24th November 2010

© The Irish Field, 27th November 2010