Horses To Follow » Festive Cheer

Festive Cheer

Trading Leather was a good winner of the Irish Derby at The Curragh on Saturday but it is well worth noting the performance that Festive Cheer put up in finishing third.

Held up alongside his stable companion Ruler Of The World at the back of the field for most of the way, the Montjeu colt started to make progress around the home turn, following Galileo Rock. However, having negotiated his way around the weakening leader Ralston Road, Seamie Heffernan then went for a legitimate but ambitious run between Cap O’Rushes and the rail rather than coming the other side of the Godolphin horse on the inside of Trading Leather. Having been right up with the fierce pace throughout, Cap O’Rushes was starting to roll about and he edged down to the rail under a left-hand drive, which meant Festive Cheer was chopped off at a critical time, just as he was making progress over a furlong out. He had to pull back around both Cap O’Rushes and Galileo Rock, but he still ran on really well, despite having to build up his momentum again, to get up for third place close home.

It is probably stretching it a little to say that he may have beaten the winner, but Festive Cheer could easily have finished second, and he may have given Trading Leather something to think about. His ill-luck in-running has gone largely under the radar, and the winning time was very good, nearly five seconds faster than standard and the third fastest Irish Derby ever run, so he could be under-rated now after this. He didn’t handle Epsom’s cambers and undulations, he seemed much more at home on the galloping track at The Curragh, and he will be of interest wherever he goes now. He would be interesting if he went the Great Voltigeur-St Leger route. The horse who finished just in front of him here, Galileo Rock, is now favourite for the St Leger, yet Festive Cheer could easily have beaten him here with a clear run. Best odds of 20/1 about him for the Leger would be massive if you knew that he was a definite intended runner.

29th June 2013