Horses To Follow » Waaheb


It was good to see Waaheb get back to winning ways at Cork on Saturday. Settled nicely in the slipstream of the leader Turban, he moved up on the outside of the favourite over the third last, joined him, apparently travelling a little more easily, on the run to the second last, and moved into a slender lead between the final two flights before jumping the last well and keeping on well up the run-in to win going away.

It is fair to say that the Dermot Weld-trained gelding has not gone on as many expected after his bumper season, when he won his first three and was beaten a short head by Lovethehigherlaw in the Grade 1 Champion Bumper at Punchestown on his fourth. Indeed, after winning on his debut over hurdles at Fairyhouse in October 2012 – almost a year and a half after his final run in a bumper – he hadn’t won again in six attempts until Saturday. As a result, people may be a little wary of him now, even after this win, but that is what makes him interesting from a betting perspective in the future.

There was a lot to like about Saturday’s performance. He travelled well, he jumped more than adequately, and he battled on well on the run-in to beat a well-fancied and well-backed horse of Willie Mullins’ in a good time, the pair of them clear, on ground that should have been softer than ideal.

It may be significant that this is the first time that Waaheb has raced in cheekpieces, they could have brought about significant improvement. If he can go on to fulfill the promise that he showed as a bumper horse, he could be very interesting, and he could be under-rated. Connections spoke afterwards about finding a similar race for him now, but he would also be very interesting in a big handicap off his current mark of 140, especially on better ground. The County Hurdle would be an interesting project.

4th January 2014