Horses To Follow » Eastlake


Eastlake ran really well in the two-mile handicap chase that brought the curtain down on Newbury’s Hennessy meeting on Saturday. Always travelling well for Barry Geraghty towards the rear of the field, his jumping was good and he moved up nicely on the inside over the cross-fence and around to the home turn. Travelling best of all into the home straight, he just couldn’t go with them as they picked up from the fourth last fence. He ran like a horse who needed the race, which was understandable for a horse who was completing for the first time since the Cheltenham Festival last March. Even so, he kept on on the far side to finish fifth.

That run at Cheltenham was in the Grand Annual, when he ran a cracker to finish second to Next Sensation off a mark of 145. Sent off as favourite for the Topham Chase on the back of that run, he broke a blood vessel and was ultimately pulled up. On his debut this season, he was also pulled up early, and was diagnosed with a fibrillating heart afterwards. Obviously that has come right again fairly quickly, Jonjo O’Neill was happy enough with him to allow him take his chance on Saturday, but it is probable that the main objective for Saturday was to get him around and get him home safely.

JP McManus’ gelding is a talented individual, as is evidenced by that big run in last season’s Grand Annual, and in the Grand Annual and the Topham Chase in 2014. He goes well at Cheltenham and Aintree, he seems to thrive in those big-field handicap chases, and he seems to be equally adept over two and two and a half miles. The handicapper dropped him 2lb for Saturday’s run, which was a nice bonus, it means that he is back down to a mark of 145 now, the mark off which he raced in last season’s Grand Annual. A stiff strongly-run extended two miles is probably his optimum, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next. There could still be a decent handicap chase in him off this mark.

28th November 2015