Horses To Follow » Kelinni


Kelinni put up a really likeable performance to land the seven-furlong handicap that concluded proceedings at Leopardstown on Saturday.

Sent to the front from flagfall by Gary Halpin from stall nine, the Refuse To Bend gelding was quickly into a nice even rhythm at the head of the field. It didn’t appear that he got an easy lead, he was kept honest all the way by Buenos Y Bobos on his outside, and there was no sense of Halpin stacking the field up and then kicking. The rider gradually wound it up as they started to round the home turn and, but the time they straightened up, he had put two and a half lengths between himself and his closest pursuer without really coming off the bridle.

It was a race-winning advantage. Seanie came out of the pack to come after him, and Withernsea finished well down the outside from the rear, but at no point did it look like the leader was going to get caught, and he still had almost two lengths in hand at the line. Also, the fact that the three horses who filled the places behind him, Seanie, Withernsea and Colour Blue, were held up through the early stages of the race, suggests that there was no advantage to be gained from racing handily. Indeed, it may have been a disadvantage, given how strong a pace the winner set.

Kevin Ryan’s horse is seven now, this was his 49th run, but he has only been with his current trainer this season, and he is in the form of his life now. This was a career-best performance, on the back of his previous performance at York, which was probably a career-best before Saturday. It was a strong handicap, run at a good pace, and the fact that he was able to move clear at the top of the home straight as easily as he did suggests that he had plenty in hand of his rivals. The winning time was very good too, the fastest comparative time on the day, and comparatively faster than both Golden Horn and Legatissimo in the two Group 1 races run on the same outside course earlier on the day.

It is quite remarkable that Kelinni was essentially a middle-distance horse in Australia, and that he was fourth in Green Moon’s Melbourne Cup in 2012. He was also a middle distance horse for Marco Botti when he returned to Britain, and he started off this season for Ryan racing over a mile and a half and a mile and six. He won a Class 2 handicap over a mile and a half at Thirsk in April off a mark of 93. Dropped to a mile at York last time, however, he looked home when he went clear at the furlong pole, but he was run down late on by Chil The Kite and Alfred Hutchinson. Dropped another furlong for Saturday’s race, and ridden similarly aggressively, Halpin got the fractions spot on.

This seven furlongs is probably his optimum, especially when combined with easy ground and an aggressive ride. The handicapper raised him 6lb to a mark of 111 for this. That is quite a high mark for a handicapper, but a hike of that magnitude was justified. He is going to have top weight or near top weight in any handicap he contests now off that mark, but he will still be of interest if he takes up his entry in the Challenge Cup at Ascot on 3rd October. He will also be of interest if he steps up to listed or Group race class. He deserves a shot at a better race now, and the smaller fields that usually contest the higher class races should suit his front-running style.

12th September 2015