Horses To Follow » Our Mick

Our Mick

Our Mick ran a cracker in a hot renewal of the Grade 3 Murphy Group Handicap Chase over two miles and five furlongs at Cheltenham on Saturday on his seasonal debut. He could have gone close to beating Katenko had he not unseated his rider at the third last fence, and he almost certainly would have finished at least second.

Jason Maguire was keen to stay out wide in search of the better ground through the race, but the horse kept jumping to his left, which meant that his rider had to continually take him back out to the outside, forsaking ground. He lobbed along out wide down the back straight, he had a narrow lead at the top of the hill, and he and Katenko pressed on coming down the hill. The pair had an advantage of three or four lengths over their rivals at the third last fence, when Our Mick jumped drastically to his left, collided with Katenko on landing and knocked Jason Maguire out of the saddle. Maguire had shown little urgency by that point and he would surely have laid down a strong challenge to the winner up the hill, given that his stamina for this trip is proven.

Given that he improved with every single one of his seven runs last season, it is reasonable to expect that he will come on for this first run since last March, and he could be a player now in either the Byrne Group Plate or the Festival Handicap Chase, a race in which he was third last season as a novice, now. He handles heavy ground, but he is probably better on less testing ground. His rider was obviously keen to keep him out wide away from the worst of the ground here, and given the horse’s tendency to jump left, he can do better when the ground isn’t so soft that he has to be kept out wide.

He remains potentially really well handicapped on this mark of 145. The handicapper probably had no option but to leave him unchanged on that mark, but it looks like a mark off which he can easily win on this evidence, even more so when you consider that Katenko was raised 11lb for winning. Despite his tendency to go to his left, he could still be a horse for the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton next month. He won a hot novices’ handicap chase at Kempton on King George day last season.

26th January 2013