Horses To Follow » Cootehill


Cootehill had seemingly gone off the boil a bit after winning his first two starts over fences in the early part of the season, much like he did over hurdles last season. However, there was plenty of encouragement to be taken his latest effort when he finished sixth in the Class 2 Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham won by The Giant Bolster. His winning under Rules has come almost exclusively on a sound surface, and the ground was riding slower than the official good to soft on the day, as evidenced by The Giant Bolster being able to outstay his rivals here having been several lengths off the leaders and apparently struggling coming down the hill.

Cootehill travelled and jumped well in a race in which not many did so at all. He has never really gone well at Cheltenham, this was the fifth time he has been beaten there, with a solitary third placing the best he has managed, although admittedly one of the races was the Grade 1 Supreme Novices and another was a Grade 2 event. He made a bad mistake here at the last ditch and was struggling after that when the pace increased. Actually, the jury is still out as to whether or not he truly stays two and a half miles, but the form of this race looks strong: the winner finished sixth in the Neptune last season and has viable RSA Chase pretensions after this win, the second, Vino Griego, was a 135-rated hurdler who is improving over fences, while the third, Pearlysteps, looks a real chasing type who has run some fine races over fences already, finishing a four-length second to the high class Wymott on his chasing bow before making a real race of it with Golan Way at Huntingdon and deservedly getting his head in front last time at Hereford. The likelihood is that this race will work out well and Cootehill may not be one to give up on just yet, especially when he is back on his preferred better ground.

29th January 2011