Horses To Follow » Hidden Cyclone

Hidden Cyclone

Hidden Cyclone was very good in the Tied Cottage Chase on Sunday at Punchestown. He was quickly into a lovely rhythm out in front for Andrew McNamara, and he was superb at just about all his fences. He hardly missed a beat. He was fluent at all his fences and, when he was meeting run a little wrong, like the third last fence, he shortened up nicely and popped efficiently.

By then he had all his rivals in trouble. He flew the second last fence and came clear on the run around the home turn. Then he popped the last and maintained his advantage over Bright New Dawn and Twinlight all the way to the line.

This was a performance of quality from Shark Hanlon’s horse. He was entitled to win on official ratings, but it was the manner and style of his victory that impressed. And the time, 0.19secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

Hidden Cyclone is a live Champion Chase prospect now. Second in the Ryanair Chase last season, he was probably just out-stayed by Dynaste that day, because nothing travelled better into the home straight than he did. Dropped back in trip to a stiff two miles and ridden aggressively – his trainer thinks that his absolute optimum is probably two and a quarter miles – could see him to maximum effect, and that is probably what they will do now in the Champion Chase.

He is 10 now, and 10-year-olds do not have a great record in the Champion Chase, but they do not have a bad record either (just two wins but just 28 representatives and 11 places in the last 17 years), and this year’s renewal is wide open. We know that Hidden Cyclone likes Cheltenham. In two runs there he has finished third in a Paddy Power Gold Cup off a handicap rating of 152, and second in that Ryanair Chase last March. Also, Shark Hanlon’s horses are in top form this season, unlike last term, when they seemed to underperform a little. He has had 20 winners already this season, which is one more than the total number of winners he had for last season and the previous season combined. As a consequence, it is more than possible that Hidden Cyclone will go to Cheltenham this year in better form than he was last year and, if that is the case, and competing over a more suitable trip, he could run a big race at a big price in the Champion Chase.

1st February 2015