Horses To Follow » Knight Of Noir

Knight Of Noir

Knight Of Noir put up a really nice performance to win the two-and-a-half-mile novices’ hurdle at Wincanton on Saturday. Held up well out the back and towards the outside in the early stages by Nick Schofield, he made nice progress down the outside in the back straight, travelled well into the home straight, moved past the favourite Tidal Dance and into second place on the run to the second last flight, then joined the leader Brother Du Berlais at the last and came clear to win readily.

They did not go an overly fast pace in the early stages of this race, Harry Challoner was left largely alone on Tidal Dance in front to dictate a sedate pace to suit his own horse, so the hold-up horses were not at an advantage. On the contrary, they may have been disadvantaged, so it may be that Knight Of Noir’s performance can be even marked up a little on the bare form of it.

This was just the fourth run of the Winged Love’s gelding’s life, and just his third run over hurdles. He had put up a similar performance in winning at Exeter on his previous run. Ridden by AP McCoy that day, he was settled out the back in a race that was also run to suit those who raced prominently, but he made nice ground through his field and picked up impressively to beat the well-backed Cool George, with the pair of them clear of Knight Of Noir’s stable companion Prideofthecastle in third. It was interesting that Tom Scudamore had chosen to ride Prideofthecastle, who was the shortest of the Pipe horses in the betting that day. Knight Of Noir may not have been overly impressive at home. Interestingly, Prideofthecastle upheld the form of that race by winning a decent handicap hurdle at Huntingdon on his next run off a mark of 124.

Knight Of Noir progressed from that run to win on Saturday, Saturday’s race was a better race, and he was just as impressive in winning it as he had been at Exeter. The time of the race was not good, it was the slowest comparative race of the day, but that can almost certainly be attributed to the sedate early pace, and it may mean that the race is marked down by some as a sub-standard Class 3 contest.

The handicapper has given him an initial mark of 135, which is fair. That makes handicaps attractive for him now. He does seem to be a keen racer, he does appear to like being held up in behind runners and being delivered relatively late, and that style of racing will be well-suited to big-field handicaps. There could be a good two-and-a-half-mile handicap in him now. He could do better over three miles in time, but he is entered in the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe Hurdle at Cheltenham, and he would be of interest in either, particularly the latter, given that he is trained by David Pipe, who has 13 entries in the race at present.

15th February 2014