Horses To Follow » Darwin’s Fox

Darwin’s Fox

Darwin’s Fox ran a cracker to finish second to Abou Ben in a two-mile conditions hurdle at Fairyhouse on Saturday on his first run since he finished last of eight when favourite for a Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at Naas almost a year ago. He travelled sweetly, tracking the leaders, and he looked a likely winner when he loomed up at the second last. He didn’t quite pick up as well as it looked like he might on the approach to the final flight, but he still took off with a narrow advantage and stayed on well to the line. He was just outgunned by the 10-year-old Abou Ben close home, who himself had been a promising horse before he was forced off the track for two years with injury and has improved with each of his three runs since returning in November.

The ground really was testing at Fairyhouse on Saturday and that probably counted against Darwin’s Fox on his first run back. He travelled like the best horse in the race though, and he may well have won if the ground had not been quite so tiring. Even though all his form is on this sort of ground, and he was well backed into joint-favouritism here, which suggested that he was ready to run his race, the testing ground turned this contest into a stiff enough test for one who was probably lacking match practice, and his trainer Henry de Bromhead is not usually one to have them screwed tight for their first run back after a break.

The Kahyasi gelding was an exciting novice last term, he was obviously wrong in that Naas race, seeing as he was off for a year afterwards, and there is every chance that he can pick up that thread again. He should improve for this run, and he is interesting again now. He is probably very fairly handicapped on a mark of 133, having gone up just 2lb for this really promising effort, and the handicap route is an avenue which could be explored now. Longer term, he could be a smart novice chaser for next season.

4th February 2012