Horses To Follow » Top Smart

Top Smart

Top Smart had put up a personal best at Sandown at the end of February when winning a decent handicap hurdle in good fashion, and he really caught the eye again on his next start on Saturday in the Class 2 Betfair Hurdle Series Final over two and a half miles at Haydock.

Held right up, he was second last of the 20 runners early on, and in danger of getting a little detached down the back straight. He did indeed get outpaced as the pace lifted coming to the fourth last, the last in the back straight, he was caught a long way behind and, while he did close up slightly after jumping the fourth last and around the home turn, he struggled to cope with the further increase in the tempo early in the home straight when Hada Men went up to join his stable mate Union Island. He looked to have no chance over the third last flight, to the point where Dominic Elsworth seemed to have accepted defeat, but he picked up impressively after the last and finished best of all to take third place.

The Seamus Mullins-trained gelding is only six, he is relatively lightly raced, and he should improve again now for a greater test of stamina. He had won over this two-and-a-half-mile trip on his previous run, but that was at Sandown, a much stiffer track than Haydock, and they had gone a strong pace, two horses went clear of the field early on, and the race was dominated by those that had been held up, the emphasis was on stamina.

They did go pretty hard from early in this race too, Dontpaytheferryman made it a true test from flagfall, but Top Smart’s stamina only came into play very late on, so it is likely that he needs to step back up in trip now to two and three quarter miles or three miles. From fairly limited evidence it seems as though he may be at his best on good or fast ground, but he has won on soft and run well on heavy ground in the past, and he may be suited to more testing ground now as it places more emphasis on stamina. He had been given a break since running at Ascot in December prior to winning at Sandown, he may just have improved physically, he is still a young horse, and so it may be that good ground isn’t important to him at all. He looks the type of horse who can keep on improving through next year, and he should be worth keeping on side.

7th April 2012