Horses To Follow » Djakadam


Djakadam put up a really nice performance on his chasing bow to win the two-mile-three-furlong beginners’ chase at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Settled nicely by Ruby Walsh through the early stages of the race in fourth place in a stretched-out field led by Caolaneoin, his jumping was easy and accurate through the early stages. Moved towards the outside and up towards the front rank on the run to the second last fence, he got in a little tight to that obstacle and landed a little flat-footed, but it did not stop his forward momentum.

He was third-widest of a line of four that disputed the lead on the run around the home turn, but it was quickly apparent when they straightened up that Willie Mullins’ horse was travelling by far the best. He rose at the final fence level with Minsk and marginally in front of Si C’Etait Vrai, and he found plenty when Ruby asked him, gradually but inexorably coming away on the run-in. He only won by just over a length in the end, but he left the impression that he had lots more in hand than the bare winning margin, and the fact that it took his rider a while to pull him up afterwards tells you that he probably had plenty left to give.

This is strong form for a beginners’ chase. Si C’Etait Vrai and Minsk were rated 137 and 139 respectively over hurdles, and both had had two runs over fences. Si C’Etait Vrai wasn’t beaten far by Morning Assembly at Punchestown in October, and Minsk wasn’t beaten far by My Murphy at Fairyhouse earlier in December. Djakadam was receiving the 11lb four-year-old’s allowance, but he beat his two closest pursuers well, the front three were clear, and the winning time was ostensibly good (although there are question marks about the times of the shorter-distance chases at the Leopardstown Festival this season).

Interestingly, this race was won last year by subsequent RSA Chase winner Lord Windermere, and it was won in 2011 by Hidden Cyclone. Also, Jessies Dream fell at the second last fence in the race in 2009 when it was won by Zaarito. It can be a really good pointer to the future.

Djakadam, a son of Saint Des Saints (sire of Quel Esprit, Lyreen Legend and Quito De La Roque) was a good juvenile hurdler last season, winning twice from four attempts and running well in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle at the Punchestown Festival, but he is built and bred to be a steeplechaser. He is an exciting novice chaser now, and he should improve for stepping up to three miles. Willie Mullins said afterwards that he would be entered in some of the good races now. His age allowance will be significantly reduced as the months pass, but he should continue to progress with experience, and, because he did not go to Cheltenham last March, he may be under-rated in comparison to some of his more fashionable novice chasing stable companions.

29th December 2013