Horses To Follow » Poet


High-class flat horses don’t always go on to become high-class hurdlers when switching codes – it is remarkable the difference that eight flights of hurdles and two extra stone can make – but early signs are that Poet will make the transition successfully. Clive Cox’s horse – who won the Group 3 Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown in September 2009 when he was trained by Aidan O’Brien – was impressive on his hurdling debut at Newbury on Wednesday. Settled just behind the leaders in the early stages by Dominic Elsworth, his hurdling was slick and fluent. He travelled well to the top of the home straight, and he picked up impressively when his rider gave him a squeeze at the second last to come away and win nicely.

The two elements of the performance that most impressed were his jumping, and the strength with which he kept on up the run-in. For a horse who could idle in front on the flat in the latter stages of that chapter of his career, this was a very welcome development. Obviously his gelding operation agrees with him.

He relished soft ground on the flat – hardly surprising for a son of Pivotal – and the heavy ground at Newbury on Wednesday played to his strengths. In beating two fellow good recruits from the flat in Veloce and Fair Trade, Poet posted a good time, six seconds faster than the time that another useful flat recruit Swnymor clocked in winning the juvenile hurdle earlier in the day.

Significantly, the last four renewals of this race have been won by (in chronological order) Aintree Hurdle third Salden Licht, dual Aintree Hurdle winner Oscar Whisky, Tolworth Hurdle winner Minella Class and last season’s Tolworth Hurdle narrow runner-up Colour Squadron. It can be a very good race.

Poet has been put in at around 25/1 for both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Neptune Hurdle, but of more immediate and greater interest is the afore-mentioned Tolworth Hurdle. He should get the soft ground there that he likes, and we know that he goes well at Sandown, given that he finished second in the Gordon Richards Stakes there last April, and that he was only beaten a length by Workforce in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes there in May 2011.

© The Irish Field, 22nd December 2012