Horses To Follow » Easter Day

Easter Day

Easter Day put up a much improved performance in finishing a close-up second to Wychwoods Brook in the two-mile-seven-furlong handicap chase at Taunton on Wednesday.

Kicking off towards the rear of the field and widest of all, Paul Nicholls’ horse made a mistake at the first fence and he was slow at the second, but he warmed to his task as the race progressed. He made progress as the race developed, but he was deliberately kept wide by Sam Twiston-Davies, he jumped just a little to his left on occasion, so he gave away ground at each of the tight turns. Even so, he continued to progress down the back straight. He came under pressure as they rounded the home turn, but he responded well and he moved up in behind Wychwoods Brook on the run to the third last fence. It appeared as if Evan Williams’ horse was travelling the better, but Easter Day stuck to his task well, he closed on the outside of the ultimate winner on the run to the final fence and, while he just couldn’t get there, he ran all the way to the line to get to within a half a length of the winner.

This was much more like it from Easter Day. He was a really promising horse as a young chaser, he won a good novices’ handicap chase at Newbury on Hennessy weekend in 2013, and he beat subsequent Reynoldstown and RSA Chase winner O’Faolains Boy in a graduation chase at Ascot’s Long Walk Hurdle meeting the following month. Off the track for a year after that, however, he has struggled and he has been unlucky since. He was travelling well when he came down at the third last fence in Annacotty’s race at Cheltenham’s Argento Chase meeting in January last year, and he was pulled up when sent off as favourite for the BetBright Chase at Kempton last February on his final run last season. On his debut this term, he was pulled up in Smad Place’s two-and-a-half-mile chase at Kempton in early November, and two runs over hurdles since hadn’t done anything for his confidence.

Wednesday’s run should have, however. His rider kept him noticeably wide, no doubt with the objective of getting him travelling and jumping and building his confidence at his fences. That objective achieved, he went close to winning the race.

The handicapper may give him a few pounds for this, but he can’t be that harsh, and he was racing off a mark of 138 on Wednesday, 6lb lower than his peak. He remains a horse with plenty of potential, he has just turned eight and Wednesday’s run was just his eighth over fences. He may just about get three miles on this evidence, but this type of trip or two miles and five or six furlongs should be just about ideal. This was his first time to wear cheekpieces over fences, but he went well in them, so it would be a surprise if they were not retained, and he goes well on soft ground.

13th January 2016