Horses To Follow » Hunters Lodge

Hunters Lodge

Hunters Lodge had made it two from two over fences when winning the three-mile amateur rider’s handicap chase at Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting in October – admittedly quite fortuitously as he had just been headed by Romanesco when that one fell at the last – and he was well backed to make it three from three over the larger obstacles in the corresponding race at the Open meeting last Friday.

He ran a strange race though in the hands of Ryan Hatch, travelling well initially, then getting outpaced down the hill before staying on strongly up the home straight. As on his previous run, he was prominent early, and he jumped well for one so inexperienced over fences. He was nimble when he needed to be too – he got in too close to the open ditch at the top of the hill on the first circuit but managed to negotiate it without too much damage. Still travelling well as they got to the end of the back straight, he again didn’t jump the open ditch as fluently as one or two around him and he got outpaced as they set off down the hill. He had dropped back to eighth over the third last fence, some 10 lengths off the leader, before running on strongest of all up the hill to finish third, beaten just over four lengths. The winner, Swing Bill, had won this race last year and had been second in it the year before that, and was clearly primed to the minute for it yet again, while the second horse, Sizing Santiago, has really improved since joining Peter Bowen.

Perhaps Hunters Lodge will progress again for stepping up in trip now to beyond three miles – he stayed three and a quarter miles over hurdles – or perhaps he just didn’t handle the downhill run particularly well on this occasion (although he had no problems with it last month). He should be better under a slightly more forceful ride too, as he was given by Hatch in October. He is only six, this was only his third run over fences, and he still looks capable of better.

16th November 2012