Horses To Follow » Norther Bay

Norther Bay

Norther Bay put up a fine display in leading all the way to land a two-mile handicap hurdle at Gowran Park on Sunday, beating the useful and well-supported Rodriguez, with the rest of the field well strung out in behind.

Eddie O’Connell sent Eoin Griffin’s horse straight into the lead and he never saw another horse, setting a good clip and jumping fluently before really pressing on at the top of the hill on the run to the third-last flight. He was still cantering having jumped the second last, and although Rodriguez had come out of the pack and threatened to make a real race if it, Norther Bay had more than enough in reserve to hold him at bay, O’Connell not having to get overly serious with him to record a two-and-a-quarter-length win. The time was good, much faster than the two other hurdle races on the card, won, respectively, by the promising Defence Of Duress and the talented Blazing Tempo.

The nine-year-old had hinted that there was a performance like this in him on his previous run on unsuitable ground at Killarney. That race is working out really well with the second, Domination, landing the Cesarewitch Trial on the flat at Newmarket in grand style on Saturday, and a couple of other beaten horses from the race coming out to win at Listowel last week – Rattan and Run With The Wind.

The handicapper has raised Norther Bay by 9lb, but he was really impressive here, and his new mark of 123 is still 7lb lower than his chase mark. Given the manner in which he jumped here, it is hard not to imagine that he will prove at least as good over hurdles as over fences, and there could well be a big race in him this season. The key to him is good ground, he reportedly comes alive on decent ground, and so he has to be of interest whenever he encounters a sound surface. He may just fly under the radar a little when he steps up in grade now, especially if Griffin were to take him back across to Britain.

23rd September 2012