Horses To Follow » Heath Hunter

Heath Hunter

Heath Hunter shaped like the best horse in the race for a long way in the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Ascot last Saturday, and he is worth another chance.

David Pipe’s horse was one of a handful of horses who contested the early lead, setting a breakneck pace, way too fast for the trip on the holding ground, and they effectively set it up for the hold-up horses. Even so, Heath Hunter travelled really well for a long way and he went three lengths clear rounding the home, at which point he traded at a shade of odds-on in-running. He jumped the second last flight like a tired horse, however, and he was quickly joined and passed by Kaylif Aramis, and he conceded second place to Art Professor at the final flight, but he still plugged on all the way to the line, just conceding third place to Leo Luna close home.

Heath Hunter was an exciting prospect before Saturday’s race, and he remains an exciting prospect. Winner of both his bumpers last season (he beat Sunday’s National Spirit Hurdle winner Kayf Moss in the second one), he was only just beaten by the useful Amore Alato (second to Irving in the Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday) on his debut over hurdles at Wincanton last November, but he won his next two. The rating of 125 that he was given for his handicap debut at Ascot was fair, and it would be surprising if he is not a fair bit better than a 125-rated hurdler in time.

He had a hard race at Ascot, so it may be that he needs a little while to recover from it, but he is a fair bit better than the bare form of the race suggests. He could have been the best horse in it, despite the fact that he was beaten a total of 12 and a half lengths. He should be able to do a lot better next time. The handicapper has left him on his mark of 125, and he will be of interest in any handicap off that mark. It is interesting that he has been left in the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ race at Cheltenham, a race that David Pipe has been trying to win since its inception. He is one of 13 David Pipe horses in the race at present, so he will be of interest if he is allowed take his chance in it. If he by-passes that race, he will be of interest wherever he goes.

15th February 2014