Horses To Follow » Salsify


Salsify really impressed in winning the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase on Leopardstown’s Hennessy card on Sunday, a race that is traditionally one of the strongest of its kind of the year in Ireland. He jumped really well down the back straight and could be noted as the most likely winner from some way out. He travelled well to the final fence and picked up nicely when Colman Sweeney asked him to go on, and he beat a decent field of hunter chasers, with the 126-rated Saddlers Storm finishing second and the highly-talented young hunter chaser On The Fringe finishing third. The time was good too, less than four seconds slower than the time that Quel Esprit clocked in winning the Hennessy over the same course and distance a half an hour earlier – the disparity between the two contests is typically more of the order of 10 seconds, with the obvious exception of Joncol’s Hennessy, in which they set a really slow early pace.

Salsify won two of the other top hunter chases in Ireland last spring, at Fairyhouse and Punchestown, he is still only seven, and he is still progressive and on an upward curve. He should be even better on the better ground that they will probably get at Cheltenham, he is unbeaten in three runs on the track now on yielding or faster ground, but has been beaten in five of the six point-to-points or hunter chases that he has contested on soft or heavy ground. He looked better than ever here – he beat Viking Splash by further than he had at Fairyhouse last spring – and he is a big player in the Cheltenham Foxhunter now, where he will have the valuable assistance of Colman Sweeney.

12th February 2012