Horses To Follow » Shotavodka


Common consensus after the two-mile-three-furlong handicap hurdle at Newbury on Saturday appeared to be that Shotavodka had had an easy time of it up front in a slowly-run race, and that he may have been flattered by the bare form of his second-place finish behind Vendor. However, that may be too simplistic a view.

It is true that they went slowly early on, as evidenced by a winning time that was comparatively the slowest on the seven-race card. However, they went for home from a long way out, and those horses at the head of the field may have been at a disadvantage as a result. They actually got from the last flight in the back straight to the first flight in the home straight in a time that was almost two seconds faster than the time that it took the field to cover the same ground in the mares’ novices’ hurdle, despite the fact that the full distance of the mares’ race was three furlongs shorter. Also, the other horses who were prominent on exiting the back straight, Gibb River, Master Of The Game, Citizenship, Imperial Leader, Punjabi and Native Gallery, all faded out of it. None of them finished better than ninth. Shotavodka was the only horse who was in the front rank to be involved at the finish, and the winner, Vendor, and the third, Don’t Be Late, were both held up well out the back.

All of Shotavodka’s three wins have been gained over the minimum trip. His last two runs, both over around two and a half miles, have been good, but he may be an improved horse now, and he still may be at his most effective dropped back down to two miles, a distance over which his rider can be as aggressive as he likes. He just didn’t appear to fully get home here over two miles and three furlongs.

He is only seven and this was just his eighth race over hurdles, so he still has scope for progression, he should be able to cope with a 4lb hike for this, and he will be of interest wherever he runs next, ideally dropped down at least a little in trip. He could be under-rated on his next run if people assume that he was flattered by his proximity to the winner on Saturday when, in fact, the exact opposite may be the case.

30th November 2013