Horses To Follow » Steps To Freedom

Steps To Freedom

Mentioned here before, after winning an all-aged Grade 3 hurdle at Punchestown on his previous start from the useful Sailor’s Warn (who ran well against Unaccompanied at Naas on Saturday), Steps To Freedom is worth another mention now after winning the Grade 2 two-mile novice hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday. This was the best novice hurdle that has been run so far this season – Prospect Wells was second in the 2008 Grand Prix de Paris, he was rated as high as 108 on the Flat last season, and he had already proved he could jump hurdles well when winning at Chepstow, and Ericht had won a Grade 2 bumper at Newbury last season before going on to finish sixth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham when sent off favourite, while Steps To Freedom himself is rated 104 on the flat.

Robbie Power settled Steps To Freedom quite well back, behind the other two principals, and he travelled really well and jumped with economy, he was generally quick over his hurdles. He may not have been as impressive as he might have been in winning this, Power had to get quite serious with him through the last half furlong, and he only narrowly got the verdict over Prospect Wells, but he deserves huge credit for coming from the back off a slow pace and for picking up and battling so well up the hill, really responding for Power having landed a little flat-footed over the last. The first two drew a couple of lengths ahead of the well-backed Ericht up the hill, with a further, much bigger, break back to the rest.

Steps To Freedom did have the stands rail to help him up the hill but he was giving 3lb to the year-older runner-up and, not only did he prove here that he can put his head down and battle, but also, crucially, he demonstrated his ability to act at Cheltenham. Jessica Harrington’s gelding now heads for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival and he may not even run beforehand as he is at his best on good ground. he is disputing favouritism for that race, but the 10/1 that is freely available about him now is more than fair.

11th November 2011