Horses To Follow » Easter Day

Easter Day

Runner-up O’Faolains Boy was the horse that commanded most attention after the four-runner graduation chase at Ascot last Saturday, and there is no doubt that he is an exciting prospect. Fourth in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle the last time we saw him, this was his chasing debut as well as his seasonal debut, and there could be significant improvement forthcoming. However, the performance that Easter Day put up in winning the race may have gone a little under the radar as a result.

Settled just behind the leader Baby Mix, Paul Nicholls’ horse moved up on the outside as they straightened up down the side of the track final time, but he was passed on his inside by O’Faolains Boy before they reached the home turn. The Rebecca Curtis horse appeared to be travelling better at that point, so there was a lot to like about the manner in which Easter Day battled back over the final two fences to surge ahead and win by over two lengths.

It could have been the lack of a recent run that counted against the runner-up, but he still seemed to run all the way to the line, and Easter Day showed a lot of tenacity and courage to beat such a talented rival, giving him 4lb. Also, despite the fact that there were only four runners, the pace that Baby Mix set was strong, and the race was run in a good time. The front two pulled 20 lengths clear of Baby Mix, who is useful, and they could both be worth following.

Easter Day is only five and this was just his third run over fences, so he has lots of scope for progression. He was a good novice hurdler last year – he finished second behind Taquin Du Seuil in the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle last December – but he is shaping up to be an even better chaser already. He was a well-beaten fourth behind Balder Succes, The Romford Pele and Double Ross at Chepstow in his chasing bow in October, but subsequent events have proved that that was a strong race, it was his debut over fences, and Paul Nicholls’ horses were just feeling their way into the season at the time. The fact that he was sent off as favourite for the race provides a measure of the regard in which he was held even then.

He stepped up on that performance when he stepped up in trip to two miles and six and a half furlongs to land a novices’ handicap chase at Newbury off a mark of 135, travelling well throughout and coming clear over the last two fences easily. The handicapper has left him on his mark of 144 after this, which may be lenient. He still has plenty of scope for progression.

He should progress again as he gains more experience, and he should be even better when he steps up in trip. At his best on soft ground, there could be a good three-mile handicap chase in him now.

21st December 2013