Horses To Follow » Horses To Follow

Paisley Park

Paisley Park did well to finish second behind the well-backed Mr Whipped in the Grade 2 Leamington Novice Hurdle over 2m 5f. Emma Lavelle’s horse raced at the rear of the six-runner field from early, and his jumping was not fluent down the side of the track as the pace increased. Even so, he made good ground around the home turn, and he stayed on well over the last two flights to give the favourite a scare.

This was just his third race ever, and it was just his second run over hurdles, his second this season. He may have been a little fortunate to beat Vision Des Flos on his hurdling debut at Hereford in December, but he may not have been, he may have won anyway even if the odds-on favourite had not made a bad mistake at the last. He should be able to improve his jumping technique as he gains experience, and he has lots of potential to progress. Out of a half-sister to dual Thyestes Chase winner Preists Leap, he could benefit too from a step up in trip to 3m.

Warwick, 13th January 2018

Red Indian

Red Indian did well to finish as close as he did in third place in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.

Always prominent, Ben Pauling’s horse took up the running after the third last flight, he led the field around the home turn and he was still just about in front as they rose at the second last. He was caught by William Henry and by Spiritofthegames on the run to the final flight, but he kept on well up the run-in to retain third place, just depriving Topofthegame of that spot.

Red Indian can probably be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the run, given that he raced prominently in a race in which it was probably an advantage to be held up. Four of the first five home came from the rear, Red Indian was the only one of the five who raced prominently.

He saw out the distance of 2m 5f fine, but it may be that he will do even better over the bare 2m 4f. He is only six and this was just his fifth run over hurdles and his second run of the season, so there should be more to come. He seems to be versatile in terms of ground conditions, and he has progressed with each of his four runs since he made his hurdling debut at Ffos Las in December 2016.

Kempton, 13th January 2018

Fountains Windfall

Fountains Windfall is not under the radar any more, but he was very good in winning the 3m handicap chase. He travelled well, he jumped well and he sauntered to a really easy victory, clocking a good time in the process. Winner of his last three hurdle races last season, including a Grade 3 handicap hurdle at Aintree in April off a mark of 137, he has now won two of his four chases this season, and he has fallen in the other two.

He is actually a good jumper though, despite the fact that he has fallen in 50% of his chases, and he was travelling like he was going to be at least involved in the finish in the two chases in which he fell. He could be four for four over fences now if things had panned out a little differently. It looks like he is set to go for the Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot now, and then on to the RSA Chase at Cheltenham, and he will be of interest in both of those races.

Kempton, 13th January 2018

Doctor Phoenix

Doctor Phoenix put up a really impressive performance to win the 2m Dan Moore Chase.

Settled in rear by Davy Russell through the early stages of the race, he was still last of the 10 runners at the fourth last fence, and he didn’t start to make his ground towards the leaders until they rounded the home turn. Third on the run to the second last fence, he was ridden to hit the front on the run to the last, and he cleared away impressively on the run-in to win well.

There is a chance that this performance may be under-rated a little, simply because the race may not have taken as much winning as it looked like it would beforehand. Polidam didn’t run, Acapella Bourgeois broke a blood vessel and Townshend was a beaten horse when he fell at the second last. As well as that, the first five home were all aged in double figures, and the second, third and fourth were sent off at SPs of, respectively, 20/1, 20/1 and 25/1.

That said, Gordon Elliott’s horse could not have been more impressive than he was. He picked up impressively, he made his ground from the rear in a race in which the second and third both raced prominently, and he won easily.

The handicapper raised him by 9lb to a mark of 155, which is not an insignificant hike for a 10-year-old, but this was just his fourth run for Gordon Elliott and you can easily forgive him a moderate run on his penultimate run at Fairyhouse in early December as he made a bad mistake early on. He seems to be at his best when held up off a fast pace and, as such, he would be of interest in the big two-mile handicap chases in the spring. He obviously handles this soft ground well, but he also has form on good to soft.

Fairyhouse, 14th January 2018

Minella Daddy

Minella Daddy ran better than the bare form of the race suggests in the 2m 5f handicap chase. Peter Bowen’s horse led from early and, despite probably racing on the softest part of the track towards the inside, he was still there with a chance behind Acting Lass until he made a mistake at the third last fence and he faded. He was entitled to get tired on this, his first run since he was pulled up in the Grade 1 Kauto Star Chase in December 2016.

His best form is on better ground and over longer trips. He has put up the three best performances of his life on the three occasions on which he has had the combination of 3m and ground that was no worse than good to soft. He should improve for this run, he will be of big interest the next time he runs over three miles on goodish ground, ideally at Ascot, where he has run two big races in the past. This was just his sixth chase, so he still has plenty of scope for progression as a staying chaser.

Ascot, 20th January 2018


He ran a big race to finish second in the Clarence House Chase. It never really looked like he was going to be able to hold off Un De Sceaux, but Un De Sceaux is top class, and the winning time was very good. He out-ran his odds and his handicap rating by some way, and that was after making a fairly shuddering mistake at the open ditch going down the side of the track. A 10lb hike for his victory over Gino Trail on his previous run at Sandown still left Nigel Hawke’s horse with 23lb to find on official ratings with Un De Sceaux, and he was beaten only 7l by him. Furthermore, he went into the race rated between 9lb and 12lb inferior to his other rivals, and he beat them well.

He led from early and kept on well after he had been passed by Un De Sceaux to retain second place, which he may have retained anyway even if Brain Power had not fallen at the second last fence. He may be at his best going right-handed, but he handles better ground as well as this soft ground. It was no worse than good to soft when he finished second to the highly progressive Verdana Blue in a good handicap hurdle in November. The handicapper raised him by 9lb, but he is only seven and this was just his seventh chase. We may not have got to the bottom of him yet.

Ascot, 20th January 2018