Horses To Follow » Starchitect


Starchitect put up a big performance to finish second in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday.

Common consensus after the race seemed to be that the prominent racers were advantaged and that the hold-up horses – most notably Affaire D’Honneur – were at a disadvantage, but Timeform’s sectional times suggest that this may not have been the case. The sectionals suggest that the front-runners went off so fast that they should have set it up for the closers. They reached half-way 6.6 seconds faster than the horses did in the opening two-mile novices’ hurdle, and the finishing speed in the Betfair Hurdle was just 96.5% of average speed, which suggests that the prominent racers went off faster than ideal, and that they should have been at a disadvantage, despite the fact that two of them finished first and second.

With this in mind, Starchitect ran a cracker. He helped to force the strong pace, he led from the fourth last flight and he looked a likely winner on the run to the second last. Agrapart had just caught him when he made that bad mistake at the final flight, he probably would have been second anyway even if he had jumped the last well, but he would have finished closer to Agrapart, and there was a lot to like about the manner in which he got going again after being stopped in his tracks by that mistake to retain second place.

Starchitect is just five, and this was just his seventh race over hurdles. Also, it was his first run for David Pipe, and it was his seasonal debut, his first run since Aintree last April. You can be sure that he will have been primed for this by Pipe, this was obviously the plan, to go straight to such a valuable handicap hurdle with last season’s handicap mark, but there is still a good chance that he will come on for the experience.

The handicapper raised him 6lb for this, but he has the potential to improve by more than that, given his age, his relative lack of experience, and the manner in which this race was run. By Sea The Stars, he handles good ground as well as this soft ground. He won a juvenile hurdle at Aintree in October 2014 on good ground. Also, he ran a cracker to finish fourth in the Fred Winter Hurdle at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, and he will be of interest if he takes his chance in a handicap hurdle there now. His owners the Rooneys also have Desoto County, who is reportedly on track for the County Hurdle, so it may be that Starchitect will skip Cheltenham and go to Aintree, where he also has form, winning form.

13th February 2016