Horses To Follow » Shemshal


Shemshal did well to get as close as he did in the 12-furlong handicap that brought the curtain down on Irish Champions Weekend at The Curragh on Sunday.

Settled towards the back of the field in the early stages of the race behind a sedate enough pace, Tony Martin’s horse was boxed in a little on the inside rail as they started the turn for home as Panama Hat and Lucky Bridle began to make a little ground from the rear and manoeuvre themselves into challenging positions. To compound matters, he was hampered a little on the crown of the home turn, and faltered for a stride before regaining his equilibrium. At that point, however, with just four furlongs to run off that slow pace, he was just 12th of the 15 runners with a wall of horses in front of him.

He did get a nice gap on the rail early in the home straight, and he moved through it just onto the heels of the leaders, but Wayne Lordan had to sit up on him again at the two-furlong pole as he waited for the gaps to develop. They did, and Shemshal picked up nicely to move through, but Adjusted had set sail for home at that point, with Panama Hat giving chase. Shemshal did get into the clear after shipping a bump from Princess Pearlita, and he did get out after the two leaders. He had too much ground to make up, but he ran all the way to the line to finish third, just two lengths behind the winner, with two more lengths back to the fourth horse Lucky Bridle.

This was a decent race. The first two are progressive three-year-olds. The winner is a nice progressive Montjeu colt from Aidan O’Brien’s yard who was having his first run in a handicap after winning his maiden, while the runner-up is a progressive horse of Andy Oliver’s who had won his previous five races and who was well-backed on Sunday.

Shemshal himself is progressive on the flat. He has run in eight hurdle races and in three bumpers, but this was just his fourth run on the flat. He had got off the mark on the level on his previous run, in a one-mile maiden on soft ground at Bellewstown, a race from which the third horse, Quartz, has since come out and won. He should be able to progress again.

He shaped over a mile as if he would improve for stepping up in trip, and he has won a hurdle race over two miles, but he shaped here as if this 12-furlong trip stretched his stamina to its limit. He should be better dropped back to 10 furlongs, and ideally off a stronger early pace, which he should get at the shorter trip. The handicapper has raised him just 2lb for this, which is more than fair – the winner has been raised 6lb and the runner-up 4lb. He is six, but he is lightly-raced for his age, especially on the flat, and he still has scope to progress again.

14th September 2014