Horses To Follow » Shotavodka


Shotavodka produced a good performance to win a decent two-mile handicap hurdle at Newbury last Friday. It was his third win in a row, his first outside novice company, and he looks a horse who can continue to progress now.

David Pipe’s horse and Ivor’s King set off in front at a fast pace, probably too fast a pace – they were eight lengths clear of the rest over the first hurdle – before he settled back in behind Colin Tizzard’s horse going into the back straight. Ivor’s King continued to press on but Tom Scudamore never gave him much rope. He was back alongside over the final flight in the back straight and had assumed the outright lead across the top of the course. Given how hard they had gone on heavy ground, that was very early to be taking up the running and striding on but, while Ivor’s King faded right out of it early in the home straight, Shotavodka kept on really well, despite making a significant mistake at the second last, to repel all challengers.

The 20/1 shot Changing The Guard finished second, and Iolith, who was returning from nearly two years off the track, finished fourth, which does cast a slight doubt over the solidity of the form, but the consistent Chesil Beach Boy split that pair in third, which does add ballast. More than that, however, there was a lot to like about the manner in which Shotavodka kept on after helping to set such a fast pace. He was always keeping his challengers at bay, and probably won with plenty in hand.

David Pipe’s horse probably needed his reappearance run at Wetherby in January in a race run over two and a half miles, that was his first run for a year, and he may well yet stay that trip, but being ridden aggressively over two miles seems to suit him well, as he showed at Taunton and Sandown subsequently, before last Friday’s race. He could go to Aintree now, probably for the two-mile conditional jockeys’ and amateur riders’ handicap hurdle on the Saturday, the race after the Grand National. He has gone up 9lb for this but that is not overly harsh, and he has raced just four times now over hurdles, so there could be a fair bit more to come.

22nd March 2013