Horses To Follow » L’Ami Serge

L’Ami Serge

It is difficult to know for sure if L’Ami Serge would have won the Kennel Gate Hurdle at Ascot on Friday had Emerging Talent not fallen at the second last flight. At that point, the pair of them had loomed up on either side of the only other horse in the race, Killultagh Vic, and they looked set to fight out the finish. However, such is the authority with which L’Ami Surge won, such was the ease with which he came away from the long-time leader, it is certain that Emerging Talent would have had to put up a really big performance to beat him.

There was a lot to like about this performance from Nicky Henderson’s horse. He travelled and jumped well through the race, and he picked up impressively on the near side when Barry Geraghty gave him a squeeze. He did not jump the final flight well, and he was eased right down on the run-in, yet he still clocked a good time, 0.77secs/furlong slower than standard, on a day on which the next best of the three hurdle races on the day was run in a time that was 1.55secs/furlong slower than standard.

The King’s Theatre gelding failed to win in six attempts over hurdles in France, but he finished second in three of those races, and third in two of the others. More importantly, however, it appears that he has improved dramatically since joining Nicky Henderson. On his first run for in Britain, he ran out an impressive winner of the Gerry Feilden Hurdle at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting off a mark of 132. That is a race that is working out really well already, with the runner-up Kilcooley winning a good handicap hurdle at Haydock on Saturday off a 4lb higher mark. L’Ami Surge was raised 14lb for his Newbury win, and he was raised another 3lb for Friday’s win, which leaves him on a mark of 149. It may be that handicaps are out for him now, he is high in the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, but he has enough experience now to justify a tilt at a valuable handicap. Interestingly, Nicky Henderson won the Betfair Hurdle in 2013 with My Tent Or Yours (who, coincidentally, raced off the same handicap mark of 149) before sending him to the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle the following month, in which he ran a cracker to finish second to Champagne Fever, and he probably would have won the Betfair Hurdle in 2012 with the novice Darlan – who also went on to finish second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – had he not fallen at the second last flight.

19th December 2014