Horses To Follow » Thousand Stars

Thousand Stars

The tight inside track at Leopardstown and the moderate pace of the two-mile Istabraq Festival Hurdle wouldn’t have suited Thousand Stars at all, a horse who stays three miles and who had made all the running to win the Morgiana Hurdle on his previous run. The unsuitability of the race for Willie Mullins’s gelding was compounded by the fact that Paul Townend held him in a pocket around the home turn when he should have been turning the stamina screw. He was initially held in by Luska Lad and then, as the front three pulled clear around the home turn, he was momentarily trapped in between Unaccompanied and Oscars Well, and had to switch out wide approaching the final flight. Unaccompanied picked up better and went into a three-length lead soon after the last, but Thousand Stars stayed on well all the way to the line to close the gap down to a length and a half.

Thousand Stars remains a horse of huge ability, he is generally an under-rated horse, and this defeat at the hands of the four-year-old filly Unaccompanied should compound that. He has great Cheltenham Festival form though – he won the 2010 County Hurdle and was fourth in last year’s Champion Hurdle – and he will be a major player back at Cheltenham again this year, hopefully in the World Hurdle. He probably wasn’t given the credit he deserved for winning the Morgiana on his seasonal debut on his previous run, but he had to make his own running there, and he readily saw off Oscars Well who, both previously at Down Royal and again here, where he was probably in front further out than ideal, showed that he is high class over two miles himself.

Thousand Stars has the pace to be just short of top class over two miles, as last season’s effort in the Champion Hurdle indicates, and he probably stays three miles well (he won last season’s French Champion Hurdle over just short of three and a quarter miles on officially very soft ground, when, admittedly, they didn’t go a great early pace), so he could be a real live challenger to Big Buck’s. Obviously if Hurricane Fly doesn’t make it to Cheltenham again then there is a big chance that Thousand Stars will run in the Champion Hurdle, but you would love to see him given a shot at Big Buck’s in the World Hurdle. He has loads of pace, he should stay three miles well, and he could be a real threat to the three-time winner.

29th December 2011