Horses To Follow » Exitas


Exitas put up a really impressive performance to win the two-mile handicap hurdle at Sandown on Saturday.

Always travelling well towards the rear of the field, Phil Middleton’s horse made nice headway from the top of the home straight for Charlie Deutsch, and eased into the lead on landing over the second last flight. He did run down the final flight to his left, and he lost lots of momentum in landing awkwardly over it, but the fact that he was able to pick up again from there and come away on the run-in suggested that he still had plenty more left to give if more had been required.

This was Exitas’s third win on the bounce. Winner of a handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter in September off a mark of 108, he made light of his 6lb penalty in winning a listed handicap hurdle at Market Rasen six days later. He was effectively racing off a 12lb higher mark at Sandown on Saturday, but he proved there that he is better even than a mark of 126. He is just a seriously progressive horse.

He is only six, Saturday’s run was just his sixth over hurdles, and he still has scope to progress further. His trainer said after Saturday’s race that he had been a bleeder in his early days, but that that is sorted out now, and the fact that it is, is obviously allowing him fulfil his potential now.

The handicapper raised him another 14lb for his Sandown win, to a mark of 140. That is a fair hike, but he will still be interesting off that mark, especially on soft ground. He handled the ground well on Saturday, on the softest conditions he had encountered since he ran in a bumper at Plumpton on his racecourse debut last February. He will also be of interest if he takes his chance in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday. As that race is an early-closing race, he will get to race under just a 5lb penalty, so he will effectively be 9lb well in. And he proved in winning at Market Rasen in September, six days after his Uttoxeter win, that he can put in two good performances back-to-back.

8th November 2014