Horses To Follow » Windsor Park

Windsor Park

Windsor Park is a bit obvious, but there was an awful lot to like about the performance that he put up in winning the Neptune Hurdle, and he could be destined for the very top now.

The main worry about Dermot Weld’s horse in the context of the Neptune Hurdle centred on his jumping. It had not been fluent in the Deloitte Hurdle at Leopardstown on his last run before Cheltenham. As against that, he had finished second behind Nichols Canyon in the Deloitte, despite the fact that he did not jump at all well. So, the theory went, if he could improve his jumping on the better ground, he would be a big player in the Neptune.

That is exactly what happened. He improved his jumping, probably helped by the good ground, and he was a big player. In truth, he actually dominated the race. Handy from early, Davy Russell sent him into a clear lead at the second last flight, and from there it never looked like he was going to be beaten. He came away up the run-in like a top class hurdler, putting almost four lengths between himself and his closest pursuer by the time he reached the winning line.

The Neptune is often a good pointer to the following year’s Champion Hurdle – ref. Istabraq, Hardy Eustace, Faugheen – but Windsor Park shapes more like a stayer than a two-mile hurdler. Indeed, the Albert Bartlett Hurdle over three miles, not the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over two, was his other potential Cheltenham target as well as the Neptune.

The Galileo gelding is also a potentially classy stayer on the flat. He is two for two on the level, both wins gained over a mile and six furlongs last autumn, both at odds-on, and it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that he could be a Royal Ascot horse, even an Ascot Gold Cup horse. With that in mind, he is a classy recruit to hurdles. He has raced just four times over hurdles, and he has improved for each run. He is not finished improving yet, and he could be a classy staying hurdler for next season, if he continues down the hurdling route, in a division that lacks a real star for now.

11th March 2015