Horses To Follow » Ballyadam Approach

Ballyadam Approach

Ballyadam Approach put up another thoroughly game display to land the two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase at Punchestown on Wednesday.

Noted in HTF Private after he won over two miles at Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting, Terence O’Brien’s horse again set off in front here under regular rider David Splaine. His rider was happy to allow Baby Mix go on from the second fence, he was happy that his horse didn’t have to lead, and he settled into a nice even rhythm just behind the leader. Jumping well throughout, he closed back up on the Warren Greatrex horse on the run around the home turn, joined him at the second last, and stayed on well over the last and up the run-in to win by seven lengths, with Baby Mix clear of the remainder.

This was a really good performance from Ballyadam Approach, probably a career-best by a fair way. Baby Mix is a classy horse and he is a progressive young handicap chaser. He won the Adonis Hurdle as a juvenile hurdler in 2012, he was sent off at no better than 6/1 for that year’s Triumph Hurdle, and he wasn’t beaten far by Balder Succes as a novice chaser. Off the track for over a year, he returned to put up an encouraging performance at Aintree, he was competing off a mark that was 16lb lower than his peak over hurdles, and he was really well fancied and well backed for Wednesday’s race. Yet, Ballyadam Approach beat him on merit, and the pair of them had it between them from a long way out.

The Bob Back gelding has had his problems, he has reportedly broken down three times and has had two wind operations, and it is remarkable that his trainer has been able to keep him as sound as he has him. However, the net result is that he is still really lightly raced for a 10-year-old. Wednesday’s race was just his eighth run over fences, and signs are that we have not got to the bottom of him yet. He shaped at Fairyhouse over two miles as if he would improve for a step back up in trip, and that hypothesis was backed up by the fact that he is a point-to-point winner and that his only win over hurdles was over two and a half miles. He appreciated the two and a half miles on Wednesday, and he left the impression that he would even get further.

The handicapper will probably raise him a few pounds for this, but he remains progressive, and a little bit of a hike would bring him up into the good handicap chases now, which is where he belongs. Of course, a lot depends on him remaining sound, but he could be a Galway Plate horse, all things being equal. He raced off a mark of 121 on Wednesday (he was 2lb out of the handicap so, effectively, he raced off a mark of 123), he would probably need a mark at least in the low 130s to get into the Plate, and that is not beyond the bounds of possibility. All his best performances have been at right-handed tracks, he goes on good ground and on soft ground, and his prominent style of racing would be well-suited to a Galway Plate. He could be under-rated also because of his age, but he will be of interest now in the Plate, if that is his intended target, or in any good handicap chase now.

29th April 2015