Horses To Follow » Sunnyhillboy


Sunnyhillboy ran much better in the Vote A.P. Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday than on his seasonal reappearance when he was fancied for the Paddy Power. He stayed on really well here, faring much more like the horse who had run so well in the two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase at the Festival in March that now goes by the name of the Byrne Group Plate. Held up early as is the norm with him, his jumping was not great here, with a series of slight errors shuffling him right back to the rear of the field with his jockey having to scrub him along up the home straight first time. Indeed he was stone last down the back straight and seemingly outpaced. You have to think that if he had been flying at home then AP McCoy would have got down to 10st 2lb to ride him, and therefore he probably still wasn’t fully wound up for this run.

The Jonjo O’Neill-trained gelding did start to make some progress coming to five out and continued to get closer down the hill before he really picked up once they turned in, and ran on really well to snatch third from Calgary Bay despite Richie McLernon never lifting a stick to him. The form of this race appears strong with the Paddy Power winner Little Josh putting in a bold bid to follow up and still there until a bad mistake at the second last ended his chance, while Mad Max was beaten further in this than he had been in the November race. The winner, Poquelin, had won the same race 12 months ago before going on to finish second in the Ryanair Chase and heads back to the Festival in March right to the fore of the betting for that contest once again. He ran to a better Racing Post Rating here than in either of those races last season while the second, Great Endeavour, ran right back up to the form of his Festival win, actually surpassing his RPR from that win. This form looks rock solid.

He may be better in the spring, and it would be no surprise to see him in top form again come March, and he will be of interest wherever he turns up next after the promise of this run. He would be interesting stepped up in trip, he gave the impression here that he may improve for such a move, and there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree, he is from the family of Whitbread winner Brown Windsor. He remains progressive, this was just his eighth chase, and it may be that the (race formerly known as the) William Hill Chase is the race for him at the Festival this season.

11th December 2010