Horses To Follow » Goonyella


Goonyella is a progressive young hunter chaser and he took another big step forward at Thurles last week in finishing third behind Equus Maximus and Oscar Delta.

He travelled well through the race, he jumped superbly, and he took up the running after the sixth fence and he led into the home straight. So well was he travelling, and so doggedly did he keep on when he won at Limerick’s Christmas Festival, that perhaps he should have been sent for home earlier. As it was, he probably got done for pace, he wasn’t asked for his effort until after the second last, by which time Oscar Delta had taken a narrow lead, but he was coming back at the front two at the line despite the fact that he didn’t jump the final fence quite as fluently as the winner and that he then had to challenge in the narrow gap between the first two.

This is high-class hunter chase form. The winner Equus Maximus was rated 143 as a novice chaser, he beat Tranquil Sea in a valuable novices’ handicap chase at the 2009 Punchestown Festival, and he doesn’t have many miles on the clock for a 13-year-old. Oscar Delta has finished third in the last two renewals of the Foxhunter at Cheltenham, and won the Joseph R O’Reilly Hunters Chase at Fairyhouse’s Easter Festival last year. Also, the front three pulled a long way clear from early in the home straight and the time was good.

Goonyella has only just turned six, he has raced in six point-to-points and in just two hunter chases now, so he has huge scope for progression. He may be better suited by Leopardstown’s stiff finish than he was by Thurles’ easy home straight, so he would be of interest in the hunter chase there on Hennessy day, a race that looks like the obvious next step for him now, especially if the ground remained soft.

17th January 2013