Horses To Follow » Josses Hill

Josses Hill

It may be that runner-up Josses Hill is the horse – more than the winner Royal Boy – to take out of Saturday’s re-scheduled Tolworth Hurdle at Kempton.

Settled towards the rear of the field and towards the outside by Barry Geraghty, the Winged Love’s gelding’s jumping was not that fluent in the early stages, and he was particularly ponderous at the fourth last, at which he lost significant ground and momentum. However, he did pick up when his rider asked him to over the third last (where he was big and ponderous rather than flat and fluent) and he travelled well around the home turn in third place, wider than anything else.

He and Royal Boy moved on together on the run to the second last flight, and it appeared as though Josses Hill was taking his stable companion’s measure on the run to the final flight. In fairness to Royal Boy, however, he battled back on the run-in to wrestle the lead back 100 yards from the line before surging forward to win by a half a length.

It was a really likeable performance from the winner, but it just may be that the runner-up has a little more scope for progression. This was just Josses Hill’s second run over hurdles, pitched into a Grade 1 contest, as he was, after landing his maiden at Newbury. Royal Boy is also fairly unexposed, but he is a year older and, while this was just his fourth run over hurdles, he is a second-season novice. He actually finished third in this race last year at Sandown.

On top of that, the ground was testing on the hurdles track at Kempton on Saturday, far more testing than it was on the chase track, and that suited Royal Boy well. He had won his maiden on his previous run over two miles and six furlongs on soft ground at Ascot. By contrast, Josses Hill had shown a lot of pace when he won his maiden at Newbury last month, and he could do even better on better ground and off a faster pace. It is interesting as well that Barry Geraghty chose to ride him here in preference to Royal Boy. Josses Hill is obviously highly-talented, he should come on again for this, and we may not have seen the best of him yet.

11th January 2014