Horses To Follow » Gilt Shadow

Gilt Shadow

Gilt Shadow was desperately unlucky not to get off the mark over fences at the first time of asking at Navan on Saturday.

Stuart Crawford’s horse settled into a nice rhythm back in third or fourth place behind a sedate enough pace that was set by the talented Apache Jack. His jumping was really good for a debutant, he attacked his fence and made ground on his rivals at many of them. He moved up on the near side to join the leader at the second last fence on the first circuit, and he moved into the lead over the fence past the stands.

His jumping down the back straight was accurate and assured, and he moved on from Apache Jack. Three lengths clear as they turned for home, he eased further clear over the third last and second last fence, and he was about 12 lengths clear by the time he rose to the final fence. Unfortunately, he got that one wrong, it was the only mistake he made in the race, and he took a crashing fall, presenting the race to the favourite.

The last fence aside, this was a really good performance by the Beneficial gelding. Apache Jack is a talented individual, Sandra Hughes’ horse had finished third behind the highly talented Jarry D’Honneur and Sunday’s handicap chase winner Bishop’s Road in a beginners’ chase at Punchestown earlier this month on his seasonal debut when he shaped as if he would come on for the run. Gilt Shadow hadn’t run in almost exactly a year until Saturday, and he had had a tendency to race keenly last season over hurdles, but he settled nicely here in his first-time hood. The headgear is obviously a help to him.

Second in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown in 2013, he was a good hurdler last season. His trainer thought enough of him to allow him take his chance in the Grade 1 Royal Bond Hurdle after just a maiden win, and he finished third in Sunday’s Grade 2 two-and-a-half-mile novices’ hurdle at Leopardstown last season. That was the last time we saw him.

He could be an even better chaser now than he was a hurdler, given how fluent he is at his fences. His trainer reported afterwards that he was none the worse for his fall, which was a relief, and he could take a high rank among this season’s novices, as long as his confidence has not been adversely affected. Winner of a point-to-point, he has raced just seven times under Rules, and just three times over hurdles. He has bags of scope for progression, and he is bred to stay further than this two and a half miles. He should win his beginners’ chase without too much fuss before going on to bigger things. He is exciting.

24th January 2015