Horses To Follow » Man With Van

Man With Van

Man With Van did well to win the two-and-a-half-mile hurdle that opened proceedings at Fairyhouse on Saturday. Well-backed before the race, he travelled well for Steven Crawford, and he just started to make ground on the outside as they approached the third last flight. At that obstacle, however, The Pounds fell directly in front of him and significantly impeded his momentum. He could easily have been brought down.

That incident obviously halted his forward progress, but he was quickly back up on the outside of the two leaders as they rounded the home turn. It appeared as though the well-fancied and well-backed Owennacurra Milan was travelling best of the leading trio on the run to the second last flight and, indeed, Mary Louise Hallahan’s horse jumped that obstacle in front and looked the most likely winner. So there was a lot to like about the manner in which Man With Van battled back on the near side, coming from a length down at the final flight to get up and win by a cosy length and a half in the end.

Winner of his only completed point-to-point, Stuart Crawford’s horse shaped encouragingly when fifth behind Sizing Tennessee on his debut over hurdles at Navan in mid-December, and he stepped up on that when he stepped up in trip to land his maiden hurdle over two and a half miles at Down Royal on St Stephen’s Day. He was a little green that day, and he still displayed signs of inexperience here, looking around him a little early on the run-in before he hit the front. He should progress again for this run, and he could improve for a greater test of stamina.

The handicapper raised him 10lb to a mark of 129 for this, but that mark may still under-estimate his ability. He is eight, but he has raced just five times in his life, twice in point-to-points and three times over hurdles, and he has plenty of scope for progression. There could be a decent handicap hurdle in him now off that mark and, by Milan and stoutly-bred, he could progress again for a step up to three miles.

1st February 2014