Horses To Follow » Keeper Hill

Keeper Hill

Keeper Hill did really well to win the Listed Sydney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntingdon on Thursday.

Nicely settled in the early stages of the race behind the leader Benatar, Gavin Sheehan moved him up on the outside of the leader going out on the final circuit in order to increase the pace. His jumping wasn’t overly fluent and he was awkward in particular at the second flight in the back straight, with the result that he had to be niggled along on the outside of the leader as the left that part of the track. Properly under pressure as they rounded the home turn, and seemingly going worst of the five horses who remained in contention, he responded really well to that pressure. He was awkward and out to his left a little at the second last, and it looked from there as if he was booked for third place behind favourite Messire Des Obeaux and Tommy Rapper. But he kept on finding for pressure and, only third jumping the final flight, he rallied gamely up the run-in to get up on the far side and beat Messire Des Obeaux by a neck.

This was a really good performance from Warren Greatrex’s horse. He was receiving 8lb from Messire Des Obeaux, but there was a lot to like about the manner in which he battled when he looked up against it. He wasn’t smooth through his race either, his jumping wasn’t fluent, so he did really well to win, and to beat a high-class horse in Messire Des Obeaux, the Tolworth Hurdle and the Winter Novices’ Hurdle winner.

Keeper Hill himself is high-class and progressive. One from two in bumpers last season, he was beaten on his debut over hurdles at Ffos Las in November, but he has now won his next three. On his last run before Thursday, he had beaten Skipthecuddles fairly easily at Hereford, giving him 6lb, and that horse came out next time and stayed on well to win well at Wetherby. Trainer Warren Greatrex – whose horses are in top form now after a quiet spell – mentioned the Neptune Hurdle as a possible next target, and he would be a lively outsider in that, but he could do even better back on a flat track. He did jump left here, so he could do better at Cheltenham or Aintree.

9th February 2017