Horses To Follow » Urban Hymn

Urban Hymn

Urban Hymn did well to run Duke Of Navan to a head in the two-mile beginners’ chase at Carlisle on Thursday.

It was always likely that two miles was going to be on the sharp side for Malcolm Jefferson’s horse. Consequently, it was a little surprising on the face of it that Brian Hughes did not go a little faster on him from the outset. Perhaps this was as fast as he could go. He is a real galloper who is at his best on soft ground and over a trip. Perhaps it was a fitness thing, perhaps his rider did not want to gun him on his seasonal debut, his chasing debut, and that makes sense. Hughes knows him well – he has ridden him in all his six races under Rules now – and there is a long season ahead. He did bowl along quite happily in front, and his jumping was good, but so was Duke Of Navan’s in behind. The pair of them started to come away from their three rivals on the run to the second last fence and, while Urban Hymn rose to that obstacle with a slight advantage, he got it wrong, threw his head in the air, left his back legs behind him, and lost lots of momentum.

It was to his credit that he was able to get back at Duke Of Navan, who had eased into the lead. The pair of them jumped the final fence as one and, while it always looked likely that Duke Of Navan’s superior speed would prevail, Urban Hymn closed him down all the way to the line. staying on strongly and going down by just a head in the end, the pair of them clear.

This can be a good race, the last two renewals have been won by Bury Parade and Pendra, and both the winner and the second in this year’s renewal should win more races. That said, Urban Hymn is the one who should progress for easier ground and for a step up in trip. A really progressive staying novice hurdler in the north of England last season, he won the Grade 2 River Don Hurdle on Sky Bet Chase day at Doncaster at the end of January. He ultimately faded to finish a distant seventh in the Albert Bartlett Hurdle on his final run last season, but he helped set a breakneck pace that day, so it was no real surprise that he ultimately faded badly. Thursday’s run was his first run since.

He is built to be a staying chaser, so it was to his credit that he was able to do as well as he did over hurdles. He achieved a rating of 142 over the smaller obstacles, and it would be surprising if he could not out-strip that over fences. He is only six, and he has raced just six times in his life. Soft ground suited him really well last year over hurdles, he as just able to gallop away on it out in front and get his rivals into trouble, and he jumps his fences well enough to enable him employ similar tactics over fences this season. He should also get more efficient at his fences as he gains in experience. He should win his beginners’ chase without too much trouble, but he will be of big interest when he steps up in trip and starts to race on soft winter ground.

23rd October 2014