Horses To Follow » Utopie Des Bordes

Utopie Des Bordes

Utopie Des Bordes probably put up a career-best performance in finishing second behind Gevrey Chambertin in the Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday. Settled out the back of the field in the early stages of the race by Barry Geraghty, she moved up nicely at the end of the back straight, and she stayed on well on the outside all the way up the home straight to move into second place on the run to the final obstacle before closing on the winner all the way to the line.

There could have been an advantage to be gleaned from racing handily in the Fixed Brush Hurdle. Gevrey Chambertin was allowed set his own pace, he led or disputed just about the whole way, and Utopie Des Bordes did well to get as close as she did to the winner, coming from as far back as she came and going as wide as she did throughout. Twice a winner over fences over two miles and six furlongs on heavy ground at Auteuil as a four-year-old, Nicky Henderson’s mare won her first two races over hurdles in Britain last season over two and two and a half miles respectively, but she was well beaten in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle last March when stepped up to three miles for the first time. She was a beaten horse before the trip should have become and issue that day, however. She raced too freely and didn’t jump well. She didn’t run badly at Aintree after that back over two and a half miles, but she proved that three miles was not an issue when she won well at Perth on her final run last season, seeing out the trip well in a decent race from which the third and fourth have emerged to win novice chases this term.

A 6lb hike for Saturday’s performance is not harsh, it brings her back up to a mark of 142, but that is still 4lb lower than the mark on which she began life in Britain. She is not big, but she is tough and, as a five-year-old who has raced just seven times over British hurdles (she has also raced seven times over hurdles in France) and who has raced just three times over three miles, she can progress again now as a staying hurdler. The Pertemps Final would be a logical long-term target, although there is the slight worry that she disappointed in the Albert Bartlett on her only run at Cheltenham. All her other good runs have been at flat tracks like Auteuil, Wincanton, Doncaster, Perth and now Haydock, and she will be of interest back on a flat track next time.

23rd November 2013