Horses To Follow » Runswick Royal

Runswick Royal

Runswick Royal ran a nice race to finish fourth in the two-mile-five-furlong novices’ handicap chase at Haydock on Saturday. Weak in the market all day, he travelled into his race well, he was still travelling well at the top of the home straight, and Brian Harding seemed to be intent on delaying his challenge until as late as possible. He did appear to be travelling better than the horses who were in front of him but, when his rider asked him to pick up from the second last fence, he just couldn’t pick up as readily as it looked like he would. He did close on the leader Oscar Fortune all the way to the line, but it never looked like he was going to catch him, and he finished a close-up fourth.

Even so, this was a fine performance from Ann Hamilton’s horse. He had never been beyond two miles and two furlongs before, and his rider was obviously intent on conserving his energy for this two-mile-five-furlong trip, but you couldn’t have said that he didn’t stay it. You would like to see him back over the trip and ridden a little more aggressively before you could come to that conclusion definitively. He is still worth another try at two and a half miles at some stage, but a stiff extended two miles is probably his optimum, a distance over which he can be ridden without fear of a lack of stamina becoming a factor.

His record over fences before this read 2212, his latest 2 before Saturday in a good race at Doncaster, when he just failed to catch the highly talented Royal Regatta. He will be of interest now wherever he goes next, there could still be a good handicap in him off his mark of 144. He is not entered in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham, which is not a significant miss, given that he was pulled up in last year’s County Hurdle on his only previous run at Cheltenham. It may be that his Northumberland-based connections are targeting Aintree, and he would be of real interest in the Red Rum Chase at the Liverpool venue, a track at which he finished second in the Grade 1 juvenile hurdle on his only run there to date.

14th February 2015