Horses To Follow » Oscara Dara

Oscara Dara

Oscara Dara put up a most impressive performance in winning the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday. The Nicky Henderson-trained gelding travelled really well the whole way for Barry Geraghty, and he moved easily in behind the leaders as they neared the end of the back straight, despite the fact that he had forsaken ground by going wide. A mistake at the third last flight didn’t help, but he was still travelling like by far the most likely winner around the home turn. Once over the second last flight, his rider asked him to lengthen, and he picked up impressively, coming right away from his pursuers on the run to the last. A bad stumble on landing over the final flight halted his momentum, and he looked in trouble for a second or two as Romeo Americo and Buck Magic closed and his rider tried to kick-start him again, but he did get going again, and he came away to win well.

The fact that the son of Oscar was able to get going again on this dead ground, after he had lost all momentum on landing over the last, gives an indication of the amount that he had left to give. The handicapper has raised him 14lb to a mark of 154, which appears harsh on the face of it, given that he is eight years old. However, this was just his seventh race ever, and just his fourth over hurdles, so he still has lots of potential for progression over hurdles, now that his chasing career has been put on hold. He almost certainly won with a lot more in hand than the bare winning margin, and he can progress again. The Coral Cup is the obvious race for him at the Cheltenham Festival – he handles good ground as well – but he may not be that far off graded class.

12th January 2013