Horses To Follow » Earlson Gray

Earlson Gray

Earlson Gray was another one of the Willie Mullins horses to catch the eye at Punchestown last Sunday. The six-year-old gelding was settled just behind the leaders by Emmet Mullins in the early stages of the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle, as his stable companion Gagewell Flyer took them along. Still travelling well as they turned for home, he was switched to the outside and ran on really well from a long way back. It never really looked like he was going to catch his stable companion, but he did give him a bit of a fright, and he pulled 10 lengths clear of the useful Tornado Shay in third.

This was Earlson Grey’s first run for Willie Mullins since arriving from France. He had run in 10 chases and 10 hurdle races in his native land, so he is not especially lightly-raced, but it is unlikely that he would have been selected to join the Closutton ranks had the champion trainer not spotted some potential for improvement, and Mullins has this uncanny ability to get new recruits to improve significantly. Earlson Gray is still only six, and this was his first run since last June, so it is reasonable to expect that he will come on at least a little for it, possibly a lot.

He has won a chase, so he is not eligible for novice chases, but he is obviously still a novice over hurdles, still a maiden. He is in the Supreme Novices’’ Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Neptune, for either of which he would be an interesting outsider, but he would be more interesting if his trainer decided to go down the handicap route for now, depending on the marks he is allocated under both codes. Even though he has only won once in his life, he has enough experience to be effective in handicap hurdles or handicap chases, a fast pace seems to suit him well, and Mullins thinks that he will be even better on better ground.

30th January 2011

© The Irish Field, 5th February 2011