Horses To Follow » The Young Master

The Young Master

Noted in HTF Private last month, The Young Master was high-profile going into Saturday’s Silver Cup at Ascot. He is the horse who was disqualified after winning the Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton in November because he wasn’t actually qualified to run in the race, yet it did not stop the handicapper raising his handicap rating by 14lb. He proved on Saturday that he was well worth that hike, and the rest of it.

Always travelling well for Barry Geraghty, up with the leaders, he was wider than ideal throughout and he was out to his left at several fences, quite markedly so at one of them. Even so, after losing ground down at Swinley Bottom, he was back up in a share of the lead as they ran down the side of the track. He took up the running on his own over the final ditch, the fourth last fence, came back on the bridle around the home turn, and stayed on really well over the final two fences to win probably with far more in hand than the two-and-a-half-length winning margin.

This was an impressive performance, it was a strong field of handicappers. Runner-up Houblon Des Obeaux had finished second in the Hennessy on his previous run, while third-placed Le Reve is probably a well-handicapped horse who is at his going right-handed. Neil Mulholland’s horse won with plenty in hand, and his performance was made all the more meritorious given the fact that he raced wide and jumped to his left.

He has tons of scope for progression too. This was just his fourth chase, and he has won all four. (Of course you include the Badger Ales.) Rated 121 for his first handicap chase at Chepstow in October, he is now rated 151, but the 7lb hike with which he was rewarded for Saturday’s win may be lenient. He won a good handicap with plenty in hand, and that is without taking into account his massive scope for further progression. Nor does it take into account his potential for improvement for the switch to a left-handed track.

It is difficult to know why he has improved so dramatically in the early part of this season, from a hurdles rating of 121. He has worn cheekpieces since November last year, and he has been trained by Neil Mulholland all his racing life. It is probably simply down to maturity, the fact that he is strengthening now as a racehorse, and possibly down to the switch from hurdles to fences. His trainer was talking afterwards about the RSA Chase and possibly the Gold Cup, and that is really interesting. He has to improve again to be a player in either of those races – especially the latter, obviously – but there is no telling how good he could be now, he thrives on a test of stamina, and he is one for one at Cheltenham. He beat Charingworth – who went on to win the amateur riders’ chase at Cheltenham’s November meeting on his next run – and subsequent Troytown Chase winner, the sadly ill-fated Balbriggan, at Cheltenham in October, the three of them clear, and he is a hugely exciting prospect.

20th December 2014