Horses To Follow » Horses To Follow


Polidam is not under the radar any more, but he put up a really impressive performance to win the 2m 4f handicap chase, and he has bags of potential. Always prominent and always travelling well just behind the leaders, Willie Mullins’ horse was left in a clear second place behind Marlbrook when Kylecrue fell at the third last fence in the back straight, and he was left in front when Marlbrook made a mistake and was pulled up at the last fence in the back straight.

That is far enough out at Navan on soft ground to be left in front, but Danny Mullins was happy to allow his horse bowl along. He led around the home turn as Fine Rightly and odds-on favourite, Polidam’s stable companion, Acapella Bourgeois, closed up in behind him, and Polidam made a mistake at the first fence in the home straight. But he was still 2l clear at that stage and travelling well, and that mistake did not halt his momentum. He maintained his advantage to the second last fence, jumped that well and started to come away from his rivals again. He jumped the last really well and kept on all the way to the line to win nicely by 9l from his stable companion, who in turn came nicely clear of Fine Rightly, with Apache Stronghold back in fourth.

This was much more like it from Simon Munir and Isaac Souede’s horse. A quintuple winner in France for Arnaud Chaille-Chaille, three times over hurdles and twice over fences, he was free and keen on his debut for Willie Mullins in the big 2m 4f handicap chase at the Punchestown Festival last April. He was sent off a short-priced favourite for that race, a highly competitive 14-runner handicap, but he made a few mistakes and it obviously wasn’t his true running. His jumping was much better on Sunday, and that allowed him put up a good performance. The handicapper raised him by 9lb to a mark of 146, but this was just his second run for the champion trainer, so he has the potential to progress again. He shaped here as if he would get further too, he could improve again for a step up to 3m.

Navan, 9th December 2017


Whatswrongwithyou was keener than ideal through the early stages of the 2m novices’ hurdle, yet he travelled well into the home straight and he showed a nice turn of foot between the last two flights to challenge Ainchea. He looked like the most likely winner at that point, but he just gave best on the run-in to Colin Tizzard’s horse. This is a race that his trainer Nicky Henderson had won seven times in the previous eight years, including with good horses like Vaniteux and O O Seven, and Whatswrongwithyou was his only runner in the race.

The winner looked like a really promising sort, a €150,000 half-brother to top staying hurdler One Track Mind, and the front two pulled clear. Also, the runner-up expended more energy than he needed to through the early stages of the race. He had run in two point-to-points and in three bumpers, but this was his first run over hurdles. He is obviously a keen-going sort at home, it is not for nothing that he wears a hood, which was fitted for the first time on his second run under Rules, and he should do better when he learns to settle better. This was his first run since April, so there is a good chance that he will be less keen next time with the freshness knocked out of him now.

Sandown, 9th December 2017

Bun Doran

Bun Doran ran a big race to finish second behind Gino Trail in the 2m handicap chase. The winner probably didn’t go as quickly as anticipated in front, he got a relatively easy lead, with the result that they were bunched up for much of the race. Bun Doran travelled well in rear, but he was in among horses and it appeared that he wanted to go faster through the early stages of the race than rider Ciaran Gethings wanted him to go. He made a mistake at the third last fence but, even so, he moved up smoothly four wide around the home turn and looked a likely winner – he traded at odds-on in-running – before he made a slight mistake at the second last fence, which allowed Gino Trail back in. He did rally on the run up the hill, but it never looked likely from that point that he was going to get back and catch Gino Trail.

This was Tom George’s horse’s seasonal debut, his first run in over 250 days, so the fact that he got tired on the run-in was forgivable, He should progress from this. He is only six and this was just his sixth run over fences, so he has lots of scope for progression now. He goes well on soft ground and on good ground, and it appears that he is as effective over 2m 4f as he is over this 2m.

Cheltenham, 16th December 2017

Vibrato Valtat

Vibrato Valtat ran a cracker to finish second in the 3m handicap chase on his first attempt at a distance in excess of 2m 6f.

Settled nicely by Leighton Aspell along the inside, Emma Lavelle’s horse travelled well just behind the leaders into the home straight, moved into the lead at the third last, came clear with Mustmeetalady from that point and just gave best to that rival on the run-in, going down by a neck with the pair of them finishing over 4l clear of their rivals.

Vibrato Valtat was a high-class performer for Paul Nicholls two seasons ago over shorter trips. Winner of the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter in 2015 off a mark of 157, he finished third behind Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy in the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase, beaten a total of four and a half lengths, later that year and he reached a peak rating of 162. His final two runs for Nicholls last season were disappointing, and his first run for Emma Lavelle in the Haldon Gold Cup this season was not overly encouraging. But his next run, in the 2m 4f handicap chase won by Oldgrangewood at Newbury’s Hennessy meeting, was much better, and Saturday’s run was a step forward from that. The first two had it between them from the second last fence and the winning time was good, 0.09secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par.

The handicapper raised Vibrato Valtat by just 4lb for that run to a mark of 149, and that is not harsh. He is probably not as good as he was in his pomp, but that leaves him still 13lb lower than his peak rating, and that gives him a lot of leeway. He is still only eight and this was his first run over 3m, so he has the scope to progress now for Emma Lavelle over staying trips. He will be of interest in another good staying handicap chase. He goes particularly well at Kempton, his record there reads 22132, so he could be a horse for the BetBright Chase there at the end of February.

Doncaster, 16th December 2017

Castlegrace Paddy

Castlegrace Paddy put up a good performance to land the 2m beginners’ chase. A little keen early on, he was quickly into a nice even rhythm in front for Andrew Lynch. He jumped well, if a little to his left, and he came clear of talented horses Brelade and Bravissimo from the second last fence, staying on well over the last and up the run-in to post an impressive victory.

It was a good performance from Pat Fahy’s horse on this, his chasing bow and his first run since last April. He finished over 7l clear of Bravissimo and Brelade, who are rated, respectively, 130 and 141 over hurdles, and both of whom had race-fitness on side.

Second in his only point-to-point and winner of a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park last March, the Flemensfirth gelding is only six and this was his first run over fences. Built like a chaser, he has bags of scope for progression now over the larger obstacles, and he could do even better on a left-handed track, given that he jumped a little to his left here. He will have to step up in grade now, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

Fairyhouse, 16th December 2017