Horses To Follow » Sparky May

Sparky May

Sparky May put up a really likeable and game performance in winning the Grade 2 Warfield Mares’ Hurdle on Victor Chandler Chase day at Ascot on Saturday. She raced very freely early on despite the pace being quite an honest one, and she made progress down the side and into the straight first time to be in fourth with a circuit to go having been settled seventh or eighth early on. Her smooth travelling and slick jumping soon took her right up to challenge for the lead on the second circuit and young Kieran Burke on board had little choice but to go on at the fifth last, still well over a mile out.

She soon powered into a clear lead of eight or so lengths, an advantage that proved too much for the gallant mare Carole’s Legacy to claw back. Despite having raced so freely for much of the contest, she had plenty left to repel the challenge of the 150-rated runner-up quite cosily after the last, and in doing so put herself bang in line for a shot at the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Festival.

The remarkable thing about this performance is that Sparky May is only a six-year-old who was having just her fourth run over hurdles, her first outside of novice company, her first at a distance in excess of two and a half miles, and her trainer Pat Rodford says she will come on for the run. Although there is always a danger of getting carried away on the back of one impressive performance, the way she raced here suggests she will be better suited by dropping down to the two-and-a-half-mile trip of the David Nicholson, especially at Cheltenham where a fast pace is almost guaranteed.

While she has been tidy enough in winning her three novice hurdles to date, she hadn’t shown that she was capable of producing anything like this. Her trainer may well be right when he says there should be more to come from her, and if that is the case, then Quevega may well have a real challenge on her hands in her bid for a hat-trick of wins in the mares’ race, and best odds of 8/1 are fair. The David Nicholson prospects of L’Accordioniste, who never jumped or travelled with any real conviction here and was beaten out of sight, look to be seriously diminished, unless some explanation comes to light subsequently, which wasn’t immediately apparent after this run. Perhaps it can be put down purely to the poor form of the Twiston-Davies yard, because it was a performance that was way too bad to be true.

22nd January 2011