Horses To Follow » Mourad


Mourad put in a nice performance to finish fourth behind Hurricane Fly and Solwhit in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle over two and a half miles at Fairyhouse on Wednesday. Settled towards the rear in the early stages by Katie Walsh, he made nice ground around the outside up the side of the track, and he actually almost joined Solwhit in front, still travelling well, as they straightened up for home. Just a half a length behind the leader on landing over the second last, the big two quickened away from him on the run down to the last, and but for a mistake at that obstacle, he might not have lost third spot to Voler La Vedette. Even so, it was a more than commendable run, going down by five lengths to Hurricane Fly, and by three and a half lengths to Solwhit, probably the two best hurdlers in Ireland at present, over a trip that is probably on the sharp side for Mourad.

Mourad now gets interesting at a big price for the World Hurdle. He missed the Cheltenham Festival last year with a stone bruise, but he gained ample compensation by landing a Grade 3 contest at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival, and he rounded off the season by finishing a close-up third behind Quevega in the World Series Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival on his first attempt at three miles. He is only five, so there is every chance that he will strengthen up sufficiently this season to enable him improve over the longer distances. Five-year-olds generally struggle in long distance hurdles, and it is not a coincidence that no five-year-old has ever won the World Hurdle since its inauguration in 1972. (By contrast, six-year-olds have won four of the last 10 renewals.) The son of Sinndar is at his best on goodish ground, and he ran a cracker at the 2009 Cheltenham Festival to finish third behind Zaynar and Walkon in the Triumph Hurdle. Given his trainer’s modus operandi, it would be surprising if he was not trained to peak for the Cheltenham Festival, and best odds of 33/1 about him for the World Hurdle are interesting.

15th December 2010

© The Irish Field, 18th December 2010