Horses To Follow » Last Instalment

Last Instalment

Last Instalment made a highly impressive chasing debut at Galway on Sunday, jumping well, travelling well, and staying on really well after the last. He looks like he could go a long way over fences.

Ruby Walsh set a steady pace on Alpha Ridge in the rain-sodden ground, conditions had really deteriorated by the time this race was run, and Brian O’Connell was patient on Last Instalment, letting Alpha Ridge stride on at times and dropping a little off him, but his fluent fencing made sure he never got too far back. Walsh slowed the pace after the fourth last and the field bunched up, but it soon became apparent that the race concerned just two, and Alpha Ridge and Last Instalment turned into the home straight with it between them, both still travelling well. O’Connell had to get after Last Instalment coming to the final turn but he stayed on nicely to soon get the better of Alpha Ridge and draw a few lengths clear.

Last Instalment had won his maiden point-to-point by 15 lengths before going off a short-priced favourite for the point-to-point championship bumper at Fairyhouse two seasons ago, and he produced a seriously impressive performance that day to power away from his rivals in heavy ground to record a near 30-length win (Pandorama won that race by a similar margin in 2008). He had a few minor problems last season and didn’t appear until the end of February, when he won a two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle in heavy ground at Navan, and followed that up with a hard-fought win at Limerick a week later. He was pitched into a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Fairyhouse after that, in which he acquitted himself well to finish third to Lambro on good ground. He was upped to three miles after that at the Punchestown Festival, but that run was probably one too many, his fourth in little over a month, and he was pulled up.

His trainer Philip Fenton has always held him in the highest regard, and he was understandably elated afterwards. He pointed out the great respect the horse has for his fences, and nominated the Grade 3 Florida Pearl Chase at Punchestown in three weeks as his possible next run. The horse is probably better with some cut in the ground, but he did run a really good race on good ground in that Grade 2 novice hurdle last season, so he is probably fairly versatile. This is often a good race, it was won by Jessies Dream last year and by China Rock the year before, and Alpha Ridge set a good standard, given that he jumped so well for Ruby Walsh in front. Last Instalment looks set to make up into a high class novice chaser this term.

23rd October 2011