Horses To Follow » Whisper


Whisper ran a nice race to finish third in the two-mile-five-furlong handicap hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday. He travelled well through his race for Barry Geraghty, but the leaders just appeared to get away from him a little on the run down the hill from the third last. A mistake at the second last didn’t help, and suddenly he found himself five lengths behind the leader Thomas Crapper as they rounded the home turn. He did make ground from there against the stands rail on the run to the final flight, and if he had jumped the last obstacle in his stride he would still have been in with a chance of winning, but he got it wrong, losing his hind legs a little and with it all momentum. He couldn’t win from that point, and Geraghty was not unduly hard on him, just pushing him out up the hill all the way to the line to take third place.

Nicky Henderson’s horse should be capable of out-performing the bare form of this run now. Fourth behind At Fishers Cross and The New One – albeit 20 lengths behind them – over this trip at Cheltenham in January, he was sent off as joint favourite for the EBF Final at Sandown in March, and he travelled well to the second last before fading from there in the desperately heavy ground. He showed that he was none the worse for his exertions there, however, when he won a good novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham in April on good to soft ground. He has won on heavy ground, and he could still operate during the winter, but it may be that he is at his best on good to soft or goodish ground. He is only five, he was having just his sixth race over hurdles on Friday, and he has lots of scope for progression. The handicapper raised him just 3lb to a mark of 140 for Friday’s performance, and that is more than fair. There could be a good two-and-a-half-mile handicap in him off that mark. He is three for three at Ffos Las, so the Welsh Champion Hurdle there in February would be an ideal mid-range target for him before he had a tilt at the Coral Cup. We know that he goes well at Cheltenham as well. Interestingly, Medinas – who had a similar profile then to Whisper’s now – won the Welsh Champion Hurdle last season before going on to win the Coral Cup off an 8lb higher mark, so it would not be an overly ambitious plan.

15th November 2013