Horses To Follow » Empire Of Dirt

Empire Of Dirt

Empire Of Dirt was running a big race in the Troytown Chase at Navan on Sunday when he came down at the third last fence.

Always travelling well just behind the pace, he moved into the front rank and led or raced prominently from there. In the front rank and travelling well as they turned for home, he appeared to jump the third last fence well, but he crumpled on the landing side, which was a real shame. It would have been interesting to have seen how he would have finished off his race.

The fact that Colm Murphy’s horse has fallen in three of his last four runs now, and in four of his eight chases, is an obvious cause for concern, but he is actually not a bad jumper. You can go through each one of his falls and at least semi-excuse him. His first fall was on his chasing debut at Thurles last November, the race in which Un De Sceaux also fell. He was just going very fast at the second fence, probably faster than he should have been going behind the breakneck pace that Un De Sceaux was setting.

His second fall was at the tricky second last fence at Thurles when he had the race in the bag and when, again, he appeared to jump the fence well, but he tipped up at the back of the fence as the ground ran away from him on the landing side. His third fall was at the first fence in the Irish National in April when, again, they were going very fast into it. The fence actually claimed six of the 28 runners. Then his fourth fall was on Sunday.

The Gigginstown House horse remains a horse of potential. He was a good novice hurdler two seasons ago, when he beat The Game Changer in a listed contest at Naas in March, with Martello Tower behind in fourth place, and he impressed last season as a novice chaser. He kept on well to win over two and a half miles at Naas in February, when Bryan Cooper chose to ride Bishops Road instead, but it was always likely that he would improve for stepping up in trip.

The handicapper left him on his mark of 132 after Sunday’s run, and that is a mark off which he remains interesting. He has only completed four times over fences so, for all that that statistic comes with a warning, he remains a horse of potential over fences. He is at his best with a test of stamina, and there could still be a good staying handicap chase in him off this mark. He will be of interest in any of those good handicaps now, like the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas or the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park in January.

22nd November 2015