Horses To Follow » Hughies Grey

Hughies Grey

Dropped back a mile in trip from his previous win, Hughies Grey did really well to win the Grade 2 Webster Cup Chase over two and a half miles at Navan on Saturday. Settled just off the leaders he was always travelling well as Made In Taipan set a good pace, he improved going down the back straight and joined the leader at the fourth last, going on soon after that fence. He had taken it up a fair way from home and kicked into a three or four length lead between the last two fences, but got in too close to the last and had to really battle on the run-in to hold off the strong challenge of See U Bob, with Whatuthink just a further three parts of a length back in third.

The second horse was rated 142 coming into this, and Whatuthink was rated 140, so, while a 16lb hike to a mark of 142 for the winner is significant, he is now 26lb higher than he was when he won the Ulster National at the beginning of March, but he beat the second and third here on merit, so it is easy argue he deserves that sort of rise. On top of that, he is hugely progressive, he is just seven and this was just his seventh chase. Interestingly, he will almost certainly be better stepped back up in trip, and he will probably be better back on a right-handed track – his previous three wins had all come that way round. As such, he is a live Irish National contender now.

A mark of 142 would have led to Mervyn Torrens’s gelding carrying 11st1lb in last year’s Irish National and, while it is a high enough mark given the fact that recent winners tend to have been rated in the high 120s to mid 130s, it does at least guarantee that he gets a run, and the class of the Irish National, as with all staying handicap chases, is on the rise so it is not a given that 142 will mean carrying more than 11st this year. (Oscar Time was second last year off a mark of 141.) Hughies Grey proved that he stays three and a half miles well in that Ulster National, yet he also had the class to win this contest, a Grade 2 race over two and a half miles, beating a horse in Whatuthink who finished third in the Irish National last year. He goes to Fairyhouse with a good chance.

26th March 2011