Horses To Follow » The Druids Nephew

The Druids Nephew

The Druids Nephew ran a big race to finish second to Sam Winner in the three-and-a-half-mile Murphy Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Starting off in mid-division and towards the inside, he travelled and jumped so well through the early stages of the race that he was fourth as they ran up past the stands first time, and he was just behind the front rank thereafter.

He was keen and free. He was always just doing a little more than Barry Geraghty wanted him to, and he had to expended energy unnecessarily in so doing. Even so, he travelled really well into the race, he was still on the bridle with his rider taking a tug as they started down the hill on the run to the third last fence, at which point the ultimate winner Sam Winner was under strong pressure behind him.

Sam Winner did respond to pressure to take it up rounding the home turn, but The Druids Nephew still travelled well in behind. Suddenly, however, Sam Winner’s stamina kicked in, and Paul Nicholls’ horse kicked clear off the home turn. The Druids Nephew got after him, but he got in tight to the second last fence and, such is the depth of Sam Winner’s stamina, it was always going to be difficult for him to catch the leader after that up the hill and on the soft ground. He did make a valiant effort, however, and he got to within a length and a half at the line.

This was a big effort from Neil Mulholland’s horse. He appeared to be happier going left-handed at Cheltenham than he was going right-handed at Huntingdon on his previous run. That Huntingdon run was probably a career-best at the time, and this was another step forward from that. He has run 11 times over fences now, but he is still only seven and he is still progressive. He did stay this near-three-and-a-half-mile trip but, given how well he travelled through his race, he could do even better back a little in trip. We know now that he handles soft ground now, and we know that he can go well at Cheltenham, and both of those factors open up lots of options for him. Also, he is probably at his best going left-handed. The handicapper has raised him 6lb for this, but his performance was well worth that, and he should still be well capable of winning a big handicap off his new mark of 147. Interestingly, he still holds an entry in the Hennessy, and he would be interesting if he took his chance in that off his old mark of 141.

15th November 2014