Horses To Follow » Havingotascoobydo


Martin Keighley’s Havingotascoobydo took the eye again at Sandown on Saturday when reverting to hurdles and dropping back to two miles for the 32Red Handicap Hurdle, a Class 2 0-145 event, and he remains a really interesting horse. He is versatile, he is a novice over fences but has been mixing it with some of the better two-mile handicap chasers around, and all the while shaping as though he would improve for stepping up to two and a half miles, yet two miles back over hurdles wasn’t a problem for him here.

He was held up right out the back, he had to duck inside to avoid Attaglance who nearly got rid of Ruby Walsh at the first flight and who was pulled up after jumping the second. A mistake at the first hurdle on the final circuit didn’t help Havingotascoobydo and he briefly dropped back to last at the next flight as Abevillian jumped past him. Taken wide down the back straight by Alain Cawley – he was four wide as they turned out of the back straight – he made an exuberant move from the back of the field around the outside, making rapid headway around the home turn to quickly move right through into fourth as they levelled up. It was a strange move to make so much ground up so quickly just as the pace was increasing, into what was the hottest part of the race, and it had to have militated significantly against his chance of winning the race.

Even so, he appeared to do it easily, and his progress didn’t stop there, he arrived on the front end plenty early enough, taking up the running as they approached the second last, going a length up as they jumped it, and looking a likely winner. Ciceron came out of the pack to chase him though, he had been ridden much more patiently, out the back and around the inside, the lead was down to just a fractional one over the last and Ciceron stayed on well up the hill to prevail by a length and a quarter. Havingotascoobydo wasn’t stopping himself, however, and although Cotillion rattled home for third, the first two came nicely clear.

Ciceron was progressive at the start of 2011, but a few disappointing runs since then, including two this season, had seen his mark drop 8lb. He was really well backed on Saturday though, the stable has started to hit form and he was nicely handicapped here on his form from last season. He was given a good ride by Aidan Coleman for the way the race panned out.

Havingotascoobydo ran off a mark of 132 here, 5lb lower than his mark over fences, and that hurdles mark has since gone up to 137 too. On this evidence he is at least as good over the smaller obstacles (he has fallen in two of his six runs over fences), and he will be of interest if he runs over hurdles again now, as long as he is ridden more patiently. The Festival plan is apparently the Centenary Chase, a race for horses rated 140 or lower, and Martin Keighley’s objective in running Havingotascoobydo over hurdles for now is to ensure he remains below that mark and eligible for that race. He will be a big player in that race – as well as having fallen twice over fences to date, he has also jumped round Cheltenham twice before in open handicaps at two-mile pace – but in the meantime he can go well in a decent handicap hurdle off his hurdles mark. Because of his Cheltenham target, he is seen as a chaser by most, and he may continue to be under-rated over hurdles.

7th January 2012