Horses To Follow » Sutton Place

Sutton Place

Sutton Place put up a nice performance on his seasonal debut to win the Grade 3 Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas on Saturday. Always travelling well behind the leaders, JP McManus’ horse made nice ground on the run to the second last flight, hit the front at the last and stayed on strongly all the way to the line to beat the useful Supasundae by seven and a half lengths.

This was a good run from the Gordon Elliott-trained gelding on his first run since last March. Supasundae is a good horse who had beaten Monksland and Sure Reef and Tycoon Prince at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve on his previous run, he was race fit, he came into this race on the up, and Sutton Place beat him well, giving him 5lb. Also, he travelled like a good horse, and his jumping was good.

He is exciting now. He has been exciting for a while. As well as the fact that this was his seasonal debut, it was also just his fifth race ever. Unusually, he ran in a maiden hurdle on his racecourse debut last season, when he ran an eye-catching race to finish third behind Anibale Fly, before going back to win a bumper at Fairyhouse last January. He ran twice more over hurdles last season, winning a listed race at Naas in early March before stepping up in grade and winning the Grade 2 novices’ contest at the Easter meeting at Fairyhouse in late March.

There was talk of going over fences at the start of this season with Sutton Place, he was in the betting for the Arkle, but he has obviously been held back a little in the early part of the season, so the decision was obviously taken to remain over hurdles this term, keep his novice status over fences for next season. That makes sense, he is only six and has lots of time on his side. He is a classy hurdler though. He was raised 18lb for this win to a mark of 158 – and he obviously would have been of big interest under just a 5lb penalty in this Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle has he been left in at the five-day entry stage – which makes him a high-class hurdler as things stand. But he is only six, and this was just his fourth run over hurdles, so he still has bags of scope for progression. He will be of interest wherever he goes next, and he would not have to improve a great deal to be a Champion Hurdle horse. To put his rating of 158 into context, the top five in the Champion Hurdle market at present are rated, respectively, 155, 162, 164, 154 and 162. He does not hold an entry in the race, but if he was supplemented he could be a big player.

28th January 2017