Horses To Follow » Saddlers Encore

Saddlers Encore

Saddlers Encore put up a really game performance to win the Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown last Saturday. Always prominent, Philip Hobbs’ horse joined long-time leader Yala Enki after the second last flight, jumped the last in front and kept on gamely up the run-in to hold off the renewed effort of the early leader and the challenge of Join The Clan.

It was a good performance. Join The Clan is a talented handicap hurdler who was returning to the smaller obstacles after making his chasing debut behind Bristol De Mai at Leicester over Christmas, and Yala Enki is a talented and progressive young hurdler who won the Lanzarote Hurdle on his previous run. The front three were clear and the time was good, 0.10secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

Also, this was just Saddlers Encore’s fifth run over hurdles. He won two novice hurdles in the spring of 2014, he beat now 148-rated hurdler Southfield Vic in the first of them, but he was off the track after that for a year and a half. He returned on St Stephen’s day in December in If In Doubt’s two-mile-five-furlong handicap hurdle at Wincanton, and he shaped promisingly in finishing a close-up fifth off a mark of 129. The handicapper left him on that mark after that, and he has raised him just 6lb for Saturday’s win, which is fair. He is lightly-raced, and he still has lots of scope for progression. He obviously handles this soft ground, but he is also good on better ground. He stays well also, so he has lots of options. He is a staying chaser in-waiting, but he will also be interesting in a staying handicap hurdle off this new mark of 135.

6th February 2016