Horses To Follow » Tombstone


The performance that Tombstone put up in winning the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park on Saturday may be under-rated, simply because all the attention was on the runner-up Jezki, about how it was disappointing that the 2/5 favourite was beaten. However, it may not have been that disappointing a run by the former Champion Hurdler, he was racing on ground that was softer than ideal, probably over a distance that is sharper than ideal for him these days and, most importantly, he was probably beaten by a highly-talented rival.

Tombstone was good. Settled in second place by Bryan Cooper behind leader Rory O’Moore, he was allowed move into the lead at the fourth last flight. Jezki looked a big danger to him when he moved up at the second last, but Gordon Elliott’s horse found plenty in front, he stayed on well from there and, despite making a mistake at the last, he kept on well up the run-in to put four lengths between himself and the eased-down Jezki at the line.

This was a big performance by Tombstone. The Gigginstown House horse had a three-length deficit to turn around with Jezki on their running at Navan in January, but he was giving JP McManus’ horse 6lb that day. Also, while Jezki was having his first run in almost two years that day, the fact that Tombstone was racing for the first time in 10 months was probably over-looked by many. Second in two Grade 1 races at Leopardstown last season as a novice hurdler, and fourth behind Altior and Min in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, he is obviously a talented individual, and he showed the benefit of his seasonal debut run on Saturday. He showed a lot of determination, and he clocked a good time.

The handicapper raised him just 1lb for that run, which looks lenient. It takes him up to a mark of 148, which is a mark off which he could be competitive in a County Hurdle. He could be better than a handicapper though. He is a chaser in the making, it would be surprising if he did not go chasing next season, and he handles soft ground well, but he will still be of interest over hurdles for the remainder of this term.

18th February 2017