Horses To Follow » Penglai Pavilion

Penglai Pavilion

Penglai Pavilion put up a really nice performance to win the two-mile-five-furlong novices’ hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday. Weak in the market beforehand, the Monsun gelding was settled nicely by Aidan Coleman through the early stages of the race, fourth of the six runners. He travelled well down the hill, took third place over the third last flight, still travelling well, and moved up nicely on the outside as they ran around the home turn. Third when they straightened up for the final flight, Coleman moved him up between Sandymount Duke and Laurium on the run to that obstacle. He jumped it a half a length down, but he picked up nicely on the landing side. He hit the front just inside the furlong marker and he cleared right away, willingly galloping up the hill, to win by four and a half lengths from Laurium, with another six back to Sandymount Duke.

There was a lot to like about this performance. This was a good race. It was won by The New One a couple of years ago, and this year’s renewal looked like a strong one. Four of the six runners had official ratings, two of them with a rating of 130 while Exxaro was rated 135 and Sandymount Duke was rated 138. It was a strong novices’ hurdle for this stage of the season.

Penglai Pavilion travelled like a good horse from flagfall, he travelled well down the hill, he moved up nicely and he galloped on willingly up the hill, stretching his neck out and running all the way through the line. Trainer John Ferguson said beforehand that he would like if his horse could stay this two-mile-five-furlong trip, that he had lots of two-mile hurdlers and that it would be good if one or two of them could stretch out to two and a half miles. On this evidence, this is Penglai Pavilion’s trip. He probably improved significantly for the step up in distance.

He is a classy recruit to hurdles. Winner of a listed race in France for Andre Fabre in 2013 over a mile and a half, he finished fifth in Treve’s first Arc, in front of top class flat horses like Al Kazeem and Ruler Of The World and Flintshire. He didn’t build on that in 2014 as a four-year-old when switched to Charlie Appleby’s, but he could have found his niche now. This was his third run over hurdles, he was an easy winner of his first two, in June and July, albeit in relatively low grades. This was a step up in class for him, and he rose to the challenge. He should continue to improve, and the fact that he is proven now on Cheltenham’s undulations means that he is an early contender for the Neptune Hurdle. Quotes of around 20/1 are not outlandish.

23rd October 2015