Horses To Follow » Harry The Viking

Harry The Viking

Harry The Viking took a step forward from his hurdling form on his chasing debut at Doncaster in early December where he travelled and jumped well before idling on the run-in to beat the Grade 1 winning hurdler Saint Are, and he returned to Doncaster last Thursday for a novices’ handicap chase off a mark of 129. He was weak in the market before the race, touching as big as 7/2 on track before going off at 5/2 having been a general 7/4 shot in the morning, in the face of support for Lively Baron who had finished five and a half lengths behind Harry The Viking on their pervious meeting but was 13lb better off here. Harry The Viking was always travelling like the winner though, settled in the second wave of the six runners, his jumping constantly taking him closer, and he made good progress down the side of the course to move right into contention in a share of second place as they came to the fifth last, travelling best of all. A bad mistake at that fence threatened to halt his progress, he took off far too early and banked the fence, and Daryl Jacob did well to sit tight. He was taken to the outside after that, he rejoined the second and third over the next fence before moving back past them on the run to the next and put in a huge leap at it, the first in the home straight, to take him right onto the quarters of Lively Baron. He jumped to the front at the next fence, going much better than the favourite and looking to have everything in behind well covered, but he is a horse who doesn’t do a lot when in front, and he didn’t seem to like being in front so far out here, he gave Jacob no help at all on the long run down to the final fence, idling quite badly. Ikorodu Road came at him upon landing over the last and briefly went into a narrow advantage halfway up the run-in, but Harry The Viking battled back once headed and went a neck in front again close home before that margin was reduced to a head as they crossed the line.

Harry The Viking is now unbeaten in four runs this season, two over hurdles and two over fences, having finished second to his stable companion Oscargo on his only run last season. He is a thorough stayer, but he has moved through his two runs over fences thus far smoothly and his jumping, bar one or two mistakes, has been very good. The handicapper has only been able to raise him 6lb for this success due to the narrow margin, but he probably won with lots more in hand than the official winning margin, and that makes him look nicely treated on a mark of 135. A bigger field will suit him, and he would be very interesting in a decent handicap now off his mark. Also, the four mile National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham is a realistic target, he should have the required blend of class and stamina for that race.

29th December 2011