Horses To Follow » Killyglen


Killyglen took the eye when running a good race to finish third in a two-mile-four-furlong handicap hurdle at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve. Sent off 2-1 joint favourite, he settled in second behind the other joint favourite Luska Lad travelling comfortably. He moved upsides Luska Lad turning to jump the third last and looked threatening but didn’t quite have the pace of that one or the eventual narrow winner Four Chimneys, who revels in these testing conditions. Nevertheless it was another encouraging performance from Killyglen back over timber having put up a good performance on his seasonal debut when narrowly beaten by Noel Meade’s useful sort Silverhand in a two-mile-six-furlong conditions hurdle at Thurles. In between those two hurdle runs came a slightly disappointing run in the Champion Chase at Down Royal behind Kauto Star, but the key to Killyglen seems to be a sound surface and that race was run on soft ground. The fact that this latest run came on official soft to heavy only serves to highlight the merit of his performance.

Killyglen has always had bundles of ability, his impressive win in the Grade 2 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree in April 2009 proves that, but he has often had problems with his jumping in the past. These problems seem to stem from a lack of confidence as he has had to be pulled up several times before after completely losing his confidence having made a mistake. When he does put in a clear round, he can be very good as he proved when running a close second in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster last season off a mark of 148. That being so, it seems a good idea to run Killyglen back over hurdles in an attempt to rebuild his confidence in his jumping. It seems to have done the trick as he jumped well here (albeit over the smaller obstacles) even out of this deep ground. It could well be that Killyglen is being primed for an assault on the Grand National this term, and while there is no getting away from the fact that it is the most severe test of a horse’s jumping there is, often horses can get into a rhythm over the big fences, and if it is good ground in April, Killyglen could be one such horse. In the shorter term, he would be of interest if he took up his engagement in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster on 29th January. The ground is often quite good at Doncaster, even in the depths of winter, and the Skybet Chase is run over almost the same course and distance as the Grimthorpe Chase, where Killyglen put up what was probably a career-best in finishing second to Wogan last March.

31st December 2010