Horses To Follow » Kruzhlinin


There was a lot to like about the performance that Kruzhlinin put up in winning the three-mile handicap chase at Kempton on Saturday.

Philip Hobbs’ horse made a mistake at the first fence, just when Richard Johnson wanted to fly it and land in front, so he was only fourth jumping the second and third around the first turn, but he jumped the first fence in the back straight nicely, and was quickly up disputing the lead with Harry’s Farewell, and he was in front by the time they levelled up for home first time. From there, he settled into a nice even rhythm in front for Johnson. His jumping was really good, with the possible exception of the first fence and the second last fence in the back straight final time, if a little to his left on occasion, but one by one his rivals started to come off the bridle. He travelled well around the home turn in front with Harry’s Farewell and Le Reve in pursuit, but it never looked likely that either of his rivals would get close to him. He came clear form the second last fence, popped the last and won easily.

This was the Sholokhov gelding’s seasonal debut, it was his first run for Philip Hobbs, and he could be an improved horse this season. Tenth in the 2014 Grand National as a 100/1 shot, he raced just twice last season, once in the Becher Chase and once when he finished a good second to Dawalan in a handicap hurdle at Musselburgh. He has obviously had his problems, but he seemed to enjoy himself on Saturday, he seemed to enjoy bowling along in front and his jumping was very good in the main.

The handicapper has raised him 9lb to a mark of 147, but he merited that type of hike, and he can progress again from this, and he should do even better on a left-handed track. The Grand National was mentioned as an option for him, which makes sense, he stays well, he jumps well, he goes well on a flat track, and he should be well suited by going left-handed again. If that is the plan, we may not see him race over fences again until the weights are published, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next, ideally on a flat, left-handed track. His best runs before this were at Aintree and Musselburgh and Kelso, all flat, left-handed tracks.

9th January 2016