Horses To Follow » Gibb River

Gibb River

Gibb River is a horse to note again now after he finished third in the two-mile handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys and amateur riders at Aintree on Saturday.

It looked as though Jerry McGrath wanted to adopt a position in the middle of the field, but he was squeezed out as the runners made their way around the left-hand turn to face the starter, meaning he was left on the wide outside and further back than he wanted. McGrath had to just squeeze and chivvy Gibb River along a couple of times over the first two hurdles to try to keep him interested and to keep his position. He put in a couple of slowish jumps at two of the flights up the home straight on the first circuit and that resulted in him dropping back even more.

He did make a bit of progress as they went out on the second circuit but there wasn’t much room for him, and he had to be niggled along again early in the back straight. McGrath had to keep at him all the way down the back straight, he was no better than 14th as they turned out of the back, but he was just about in contention at the top of the home straight, just a couple of lengths off his stable companion, the eventual winner Lifestyle. In contrast to the winner, however, who had a clear run down the centre of the track to challenge the leader Dream Esteem, Gibb River was caught in traffic in behind horses over the third last flight and just couldn’t get on with his challenge quickly enough as McGrath had to decide which side of Jubail to come. Switched towards the inside, he flew home from the final hurdle, jumping it in seventh and gaining ground all the way to snatch third on the line.

This was much more like it from Gibb River, he had looked like an exciting horse at the start of the season but had put in a disappointing effort in the Ladbroke Hurdle at Ascot, although judged on the way he was always struggling to go the early pace here before staying on so strongly, the very steady pace they went in the Ladbroke would have been all against him. He should benefit from stepping up to two and a half miles at least now. Nicky Henderson’s horse has gone back up 1lb following this run, but he is still only 5lb higher than when he started the season, this was just his eighth run over hurdles, and he is interesting again now. He could fulfill his potential next year now once he has strengthened up again.

14th April 2012