Horses To Follow » A New Story

A New Story

A New Story put up a really nice performance to finish third in the two-mile-three-furlong handicap hurdle at Naas on Sunday, and that run should have put him spot on now for the Cross-Country Chase at Cheltenham on Tuesday. Settled just behind the leaders through the early stages by Conor Ring, Michael Hourigan’s gelding took it up at the third last, and travelled well in front down to the second last. Ultimate winner Silent Creek burst through on the inside to take it up on the run to the last, and he kept on well up the hill to win well, despite making a terrible blunder at the last, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which A New Story kept on up the run-in under just a hands-and-heels ride from his young jockey, just getting nutted for second place by According To Paddy, and only a length behind the winner.

Winner of the Cross-Country race at Cheltenham last year, A New Story has undergone an almost identical preparation this term. Fifth in Punchestown’s Grand National trial last year, he finished fourth in the same race this year behind Some Target. A close-up fourth in this Naas handicap hurdle last year behind his stable companion Dancing Tornado, he has finished a close-up third in the race this year. He is a year older, he is now 13 and is a veteran of the veterans, but the Cross-Country is much more about experience and affinity for the track than it is about handicap marks and progressiveness (72 horses aged seven or younger have contested cross-country races at Cheltenham, and only one of them has won) and, on this evidence, A New Story goes to Cheltenham at least as well as he was last year. The 2011 Cross-Country has surely been Hourigan’s target for the son of Fourstars Allstar since he left Cheltenham’s winner’s enclosure last year, and he will again be ridden by Adrian Heskin, a top horseman who excels at this track, and who has gained sufficiently in experience in the last 12 months to more than compensate for the reduction in his claim from 7lb to 5lb. A New Story’s mark of 141 for the race is 6lb higher than last year’s mark, which seems a little unfair given that his chase rating in Ireland is a lowly 130, but he is only 3lb worse off with last year’s runner-up L’Ami for beating him by over two lengths. He obviously thrives at the track, he may even be progressing at it – he was having just his fourth run over the course last year, which is significant, it is a track at which, unsurprisingly, horses seem to improve with experience of it – and odds of 14/1 about him for Tuesday’s race are more than fair.

6th March 2011

© The Irish Field, 12th March 2011