Horses To Follow » Some Target

Some Target

On an extraordinary day for his trainer Willie Mullins, Some Target took another significant step forward when he landed the AIRO Grand National Trial at Punchestown on Sunday. Held up in the early stages by Paul Townend, he made steady progress down the back straight, moved into third place at the third last, moved easily in behind the leader Noble Concorde around the home turn, took it up on the approach to the last, and stayed on determinedly on the run-in to get the better of the Jim Culloty-trained horse, the pair of them pulling clear of their rivals and clocking a good time.

Some Target is really interesting now given the potential he has now for progression. Actually, his trainer was apparently of the opinion that he was harshly handicapped on a mark of 125 for this, and you could understand the trainers’ viewpoint if you were basing your assessment on his previous run, when he was beaten 50 lengths by Royal De La Thinte in a beginners’ chase on New Year’s Eve. However, he made a terrible mistake at the second last that day when it looked like he was getting the better of Alpha Ridge and Ballymak for second place, he was down on his backside and almost came to a standstill. It is stretching it to say that he would have beaten Royal De La Thinte that day, but he might have given Jim Dreaper’s horse something to think about. Before that, he had stayed on nicely over an inadequate two-and-a-half-mile trip to finish third behind Magnanimity and Arabella Boy in a good beginners’ chase at Punchestown in November on what was effectively his seasonal debut. A good bumper horse last season – he got to within a length of Thegreatjohnbrowne on his racecourse debut and he beat subsequent winner, the highly-thought-of Ballyburke at Limerick around this time last year – he won his maiden hurdle at Clonmel nicely and was sent off as favourite for the good novices’ handicap hurdle that Quito De La Roque won at Fairyhouse in April, racing off a mark of 120, but he has always been a chaser in the making. The market didn’t mirror the trainer’s opinion on Sunday that he was harshly handicapped, given how well-backed he was, and he can progress again from here. He has only just turned seven, this was just his fourth ever run over fences, his first handicap, and he has huge scope to progress now in staying chases. The handicapper has raised him 9lb for this, but his new mark of 134 may still under-estimate his ability quite considerably. Also, he is obviously still a novice, so he has myriad options, the most interesting of which is the four-miler at Cheltenham.

It may be significant that Willie Mullins last won the Punchestown Grand National trial in 2003 with another seven-year-old, subsequent Grand National winner Hedgehunter, who was travelling really well in the Cheltenham four-miler on his subsequent run when he made a race-ending mistake at the second last. The 20/1 that is freely available about Some Target for the National Hunt Chase looks generous.

30th January 2011

© The Irish Field, 5th February 2011