Horses To Follow » Irish Cavalier

Irish Cavalier

Irish Cavalier ran a lot better than his finishing position in fifth place suggests in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Settled towards the rear of the field and towards the outside through the early stages of the race, he made significant progress down the back straight.  No better than 15th of the 20 runners jumping the final fence in the home straight first time, he was sixth as they turned at the top of the hill.  He had to do a lot of running to make up that ground, especially given that he raced around the outside.  You can argue that the better ground was on the outside, but the first two home, Anacotty and Buywise, both raced towards the inside throughout, so there probably was no advantage to be gained from going wide.

Disputing third place as they landed over the fourth last fence, Rebecca Curtis’ horse travelled really well down the hill for Paul Townend.  He joined Double Ross and Kings Palace in front on landing over the third last and, when he moved on around the home turn and into a one-length lead on the run to the last, he looked set for victory, he traded at 1.55 in-running.  His early exertions took their toll on the run-in, however, and he was passed by four horses inside the final 220 yards.

It was still a massive run from Irish Cavalier.  This was a really hot handicap chase, it always is, and it was run in a high-class time, 0.07secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.  It was a big effort from Irish Cavalier to go as close as he did under 11st 9lb, and he can be marked up a fair bit on the bare form of the run.

The Aussie Rules gelding’s future looks even brighter now than it did on Saturday morning. He continues his progression, this was another step up on anything that he had done before, and he is only six, so he still has scope for further progression.  The handicapper left him on his mark of 156 for this, which is fair, that mark may still under-estimate his ability and his potential by a fair way.  He will be of interest now in a big handicap chase off that mark.  He is worth another try at three miles, he ran well on his only completed attempt over the trip in the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Punchestown in April, but he is probably still at his best over a strongly-run two and a half miles, at least for now.

14th November 2015