Things We Learned » Star status

Star status

Comparisons between modern day champions and past heroes are futile in the extreme, and the inclusion of any horse in the same sentence as Arkle is as close to blasphemous as you can come for some when discussing horses and horse racing. Suffice to say, then, that Kauto Star is an extraordinary racehorse. Cite a National Hunt racing record, and he has probably broken it.

Perhaps if he had been grey, or if he was trained by a farmer with more sheep than horses, he would have been a horse of the people before now, but better late than never. It was right that due adulation and accolades were heaped upon him at Haydock last Saturday.

Novice stars

The most exciting class to monitor at the start of a normal National Hunt season is invariably that containing the novice chasers, and the Class of 2011 continues to give, the bubbles continue to swell without any sign of a pin.

On Saturday at Punchestown, Raptor put up an impressive display of jumping to land the two-and-a-half-mile beginners’ chase, clocking a fast time, the fastest comparative time of the day.

On Sunday, Days Hotel confirmed the promise of his debut success in his beginners’ chase over two miles at Punchestown last month when he landed the Grade 2 Craddockstown Chase over the same course and distance, jumping well and beating the highly talented second-season novice Lucky William into second place. A half an hour later, Last Instalment stepped up on his defeat of Alpha Ridge on his chasing bow at Galway in October to win the other Grade 2 contest on the card, the Florida Pearl Chase over two miles and six furlongs.

Add to these Bog Warrior and First Lieutenant and Lambro and their ilk, and the excitement is legitimised. Also, we have yet to see Solwhit and Sir Des Champs and Hidden Cyclone jump a fence. There will come a time when some of the reputations will become tarnished and when some of the bubbles will burst, but for now, we can wallow in the anticipation.


Of course, you shouldn’t have been watching the 3.15 from Lingfield on a Wednesday afternoon just as the National Hunt season has hit fourth gear, but if you were, you would have seen a nice performance from the Fantastic Light mare Tinshu in winning a good 10-furlong handicap. Travelling well the whole way, she picked up impressively in the home straight when Fergus Sweeney asked her, to come clear before idling inside the last 50 yards.

A winner previously on Polytrack off a mark of 86, she was racing here off a mark of 80. She is not obviously unexposed, but she is talented on her day and, now that she has re-gained the winning thread, she will be interesting wherever she goes next, especially if she is turned out again quickly under a penalty on Polytrack before the handicapper has had a chance to re-assess her.

Mullins motoring

You can usually count on Team Willie Mullins to start rolling from mid-November, and this season is no different. Since Monday 14th November, Mullins has saddled 33 runners. Of those 33, 17 of them have won, six have finished second and six have finished third. That’s a strike rate of over 51%. Only three of his 33 runners who finished (one was carried out) failed to finish in the first three. These are startling statistics.

All types of contests seem to come alike to Mullins. Maiden hurdles, novice hurdles, handicap hurdles, Grade 1 hurdles, bumpers, beginners’ chases, conditions chases, he doesn’t discriminate, he has won them all in the last 12 days. He even got Scotsirish to win the Risk Of Thunder Chase on his debut over the banks course at Punchestown last Saturday. Following on from Uncle Junior’s win in the cross-country chase at Cheltenham two weeks ago, even Enda Bolger has to start looking over his shoulder now.

The depth and breadth of the equine talent that Mullins has at his disposal is astonishing. Don’t expect any respite.

Lucky or good?

If Giovanni Trapattoni was a racehorse owner, he would be Clive Smith.

© The Irish Field, 26th November 2011