Horses To Follow » Soll


The other horse to take out of last Saturday’s London National (as well as Well Refreshed) is Soll. Jo Hughes’ strapping eight-year-old travelled and jumped well throughout, with the exception of a mistake at the downhill fence going away from the stands at the start of the final circuit. Always handy, he moved up nicely over the Railway Fences to take up the running on exiting the back straight. He could never get away from his field from there, however, he was joined at the Pond Fence and he was only third jumping the second last, but he kept on well from there to finish fifth, less than five lengths behind the winner There’s No Panic.

Soll was entitled to get tired here on his seasonal debut. It was his first run since he finished seventh in the Grand National last April, and you can be sure that the Aintree race is his main target again this term. He was only eight when he ran in the National last season, and that is, historically, too young. No eight-year-old has won the National since Bindaree in 2002, and 19 of the last 20 winners were nine or older. That said, he ran really well in the 2013 National, he is built for the big fences, he jumped them well and he travelled well up with the leaders and on the inside, until he just tired from the third last fence. Also, he was hampered and made a mistake at The Chair, which set him back a little and he had to do some running to recover that ground.

A talented novice chaser for Willie Mullins two seasons ago – he was sent off at no better than 8/1 for the National Hunt Chase at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival when he was brought down by his stable companion – he was a good winner of a three-mile handicap chase for Jo Hughes on heavy ground at Sandown last March off a mark of 132 – when he had Saturday’s winner There’s No Panic behind him in second place – on his final run before the National. He remains lightly-raced, he has having just his eighth run over fences on Saturday, and he still has scope for progression. His current mark of 138 is more than feasible, it should be enough to get him into this season’s Grand National on a nice low weight, and he is apparently being trained specifically for that National this year. Although he is by Presenting, he does go well on soft ground, so it was to his credit that he ran as well as he did in last season’s National on good ground. He could be a big player in the Grand National this season – best odds of 40/1 are interesting – and his chance will be enhanced if it does happen to come up soft.

7th December 2013