Horses To Follow » Brain Power

Brain Power

You couldn’t see everything through the fog at Ascot on Saturday, but there is very little doubt that Brain Power put up an impressive performance to win the feature race, the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday, the old Ladbroke.

Nicky Henderson’s horse always appeared to be travelling well towards the outside and around midfield. He moved up to chase the clear leader Fergall around the home turn, jumped the second last flight well and hit the front at the final flight before clearing away nicely to put five lengths between himself and his field by the time eh reached the winning line.

This race is usually one of the most competitive handicap hurdles on the calendar, and this year’s renewal appeared to be up to standard. There were several unexposed horses in the race, two of which – Consul De Thaix and Golden Spear – filled two of the three places behind Brain Power, so the form looks rock solid. Also, the winning time was good, 0.07secs/furlong faster than standard.

There is a lot to like about Brain Power. He was a novice with lots of potential last season, he won two of his first three races, despite showing his inexperience on occasion, and he finished third to Don’t Touch It in the Grade 1 Champion Novice Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival in April on his final run, in front of Yorkhill and Charbel and Ball D’Arc.

Lost in the soft ground in the Greatwood Hurdle on his first run this season, he was seriously impressive in winning a handicap hurdle at Sandown on Tingle Creek day on his second, when he had Saturday’s runner-up Consul De Thaix behind him, the pair of them clear. That was a career-best from him by some way, and Saturday’s run was another step forward from that.

The handicapper raised him 13lb to a mark of 162, a hike which was merited, and it probably means that handicaps are out for him now. More pertinently, it puts him into Grade 1 territory. He has upwards of a stone to find with Faugheen and he has 11lb to find with Annie Power, given that she gets the 7lb mares’ allowance, but a mark of 162 puts him level with Nichols Canyon. That is exalted company. He will be interesting when he moves up in grade, which he surely will now.

17th December 2016