Horses To Follow » Cloudy Spirit

Cloudy Spirit

Cloudy Spirit travelled really well throughout a three-mile handicap hurdle at Bangor last Saturday, looking the most likely winner from some way out and staying on well to win impressively. She was held up out the back and jumped big at the first couple of flights, but soon settled into a nice rhythm with her jumping and began to make ground going out on the final circuit. She didn’t have the clearest of passages as she tried to make ground, but Harry Skelton had so much horse underneath him that he was able to easily manoeuvre around rivals and come to challenge leader Larks Lad at the second last, obviously travelling the better. To his credit, Larks Lad did keep at it all the way to the line, forcing Cloudy Spirit to prove that she saw out the three miles well – and there was a stamina doubt about her going into this race – but she had no problems in so doing, holding a comfortable two-length advantage at the post.

The runner-up posted an effort much more in line with that which he promised as a novice last year, finishing sixth in the EBF final at Sandown, and Stagecoach Opal’s presence in third place, five lengths back, gives the form even more substance as he came here chasing a hat-trick after cosy wins at Catterick and Market Rasen.

This was Reg Hollinshead’s mare’s first try at three miles and she got it well. The race featured several unexposed improving sorts but she came out well on top and she has considerable scope now over the trip, her dam having won over two miles and six furlongs. Indeed Cloudy Spirit’s best run last season was when she was beaten less than 10 lengths in a listed mares’ handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in April over two miles and six furlongs, the furthest distance over which she had ever raced. This was her third win of the season, her second in a row over hurdles stepped back up to two miles six and beyond, having won a “Jumpers’ Bumper” over Christmas. She has gone up 17lb for these latest two up to a mark of 132, but she is only six, and in this sort of form she should progress again over the trip.

26th March 2011