Horses To Follow » Alderwood


Alderwood ran a really nice race to finish second to Lastoftheleaders in the Dan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase at Punchestown on Sunday on ground that should probably have been too soft for him.

Tom Mullins’ gelding travelled smoothly out wide towards the rear througout, he jumped nicely, and he made ground over the fourth last fence. He was still travelling well around the home turn and he looked the most likely winner on the run to the last as he quickened up widest of all, but he had to give best to Lastoftheleaders, who got a lovely split up the rail early in the home straight and who stayed on really well up the far side.

This should have put Alderwood sport on for Cheltenham again now, and he looks very much like a Grand Annual horse. He won the County Hurdle at last year’s Festival with plenty in hand after getting badly hampered on the bottom bend, and he followed that up with wins in a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Fairyhouse and the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at Punchestown, beating Trifolium, Simenon and Midnight Game. His Irish chase mark of 138 is 10lb lower than his hurdles mark, and 1lb lower than the mark off which he won the County Hurdle last year so, as long as the British handicapper doesn’t go bananas, he could be a well-handicapped horse going to Cheltenham.

The fact that he has won at Cheltenham, under Cheltenham Festival conditions, is hugely in his favour in the context of a Grand Annual, and AP McCoy, whose record on the horse reads 0111S, should be back on board then. Nicky Henderson’s horses are usually the ones who attract the most attention in the lead up to the (Johnny Henderson) Grand Annual, it is a race that the trainer obviously likes to target, but JP McManus has won two of the last eight, and Irish-trained horses have won four of the last 13.

3rd February 2013