Horses To Follow » Walkon


Walkon ran a huge race to finish second in a Grade 2 handicap at Ascot on Saturday. Having his first run since he won the Matalan Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree as a juvenile in 2009, he travelled well behind a really fast pace, made good ground under pressure around the home turn out in the centre of the track, and collared long-time pace-setter Lough Derg on landing over the last, only for he himself to be mugged close home by the 40/1 shot Tiger O’Toole.

There was plenty to like about this performance. First of all, he is back. He had been sidelined for so long through injury that you couldn’t have been sure that he would retain the ability that saw him emerge as probably the top juvenile hurdler in 2008/09, but on this evidence he has. He showed a really willing attitude to gain on and catch Lough Derg when it looked like David Pipe’s horse had burnt off all his rivals, and he stuck on really well even after Tiger O’Toole had passed him.

Alan King says that he is a big horse who takes a lot of getting fit. He thought that he would come on a lot for this run, and the fact that he reportedly lost 17 kilos suggests that the trainer is correct. There is a slight worry about the bounce factor – we have seen a couple of horses bounce in recent weeks – but he is a horse to take seriously now wherever he goes. He would be of huge interest if he took his chance in the Totesport Trophy, but it may be that he is at his best over two and a half miles, and that the Aintree Hurdle, rather than the Champion or the World Hurdle, at the track at which he posted the most impressive performance of his juvenile campaign, is the race for him in the spring.

22nd January 2011

© The Irish Field, 29th January 2011