Horses To Follow » Oscar Time

Oscar Time

The Martin Lynch-trained Oscar Time ran a nice race to finish second to Rick in a two-and-three-quarter-mile hurdle at Thurles last Thursday, and he continues to be of interest for the Grand National. Settled in behind the leaders and a little keen through the early stages, he moved up nicely down the back straight final time, moved easily past early leader Becauseicouldntsee over the third last, and looked a real threat to Rick between the last two flights before succumbing to the better finishing kick of Dessie Hughes’s horse.

Even looking at this run in isolation, it was hugely encouraging. Rick has always been highly regarded by Dessie Hughes and he could be set to progress again now, while the front two pulled clear of Sivota, a 134-rated performer who still promises to be even better than that. Oscar Time’s jumping was good, he was high over his hurdles, but that is to be expected from a chaser, and you could hardly have hoped for a better start to a campaign that will surely be geared exclusively to the Aintree Grand National in April.

The son of Oscar was an impressive winner of the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown last December off a mark of 124, and he ran a cracker off a 17lb higher mark to finish second to Bluesea Cracker in the Irish National last April. The influence that the Irish National has on the following year’s Aintree equivalent is no secret (Bobbyjo, Papillon, Numbersixvalverde, Red Marauder are all recent winners), horses that go well in the Fairyhouse race have obviously proven that they can jump and stay, and Oscar Time has the profile that you look for in an Aintree winner. He will be 10 next year, the ideal age for the race, he obviously jumps well and stays well, and his current rating of 146 is pretty much ideal. Bought by Robert Waley-Cohen specifically with the Grand National in mind, it would be surprising if Martin Lynch didn’t confine him to hurdles now until the weights are published in order to protect his handicap mark. He has raced nine times over fences, which gives him the ideal mix of experience and potential for progression for the National, he is Irish-bred, like eight of the last 10 winners, he is Irish-trained, like six of the last 12, he is proven in big-field handicap chases, he is versatile in terms of ground (he has won on yielding and on heavy) and, all things being equal, he will be ridden in the race by the owner’s son Sam, who has already ridden Katarino (twice) and Liberthine to victory over the big Aintree fences. He will be trained for the race, and best odds of 50/1 about him look very generous at present.

25th November 2010

© The Irish Field, 4th December 2010