Horses To Follow » HTF – Ireland


Politesse only finished fifth in the Grade 3 mares’ novices’ hurdle at Down Royal on Friday, but she ran better than her finishing position suggests.

Settled in fourth place early on by Conor Orr behind a good pace that Kitty Galore set, she travelled well and her jumping was good in general. She made a slight mistake at the fourth last flight, but she was quickly back into her racing rhythm, and travelling well up on the outside of the leaders. She jumped the third last flight in a dispute of the lead with Queens Brook, and she travelled better than that rival, better than all her rivals, down the hill to the second last flight. She landed over that obstacle with a slender advantage, but she got in tight to the final flight, and she just tired on the run-in, losing three places in the final 150 yards.

They went fast here, and they started racing early, as evidenced by the fact that the winner Skyace was last of the main body of the field from early, and appeared to be struggling on landing over the fourth last flight, and that The Getaway Star, a detached last for much of the race, stayed on to finish a close-up fourth. This was Politesse’s seasonal debut, it was her first run since last March, and it is probable that that, combined with the fast pace, took its toll late on.

Second in the Grade 2 mares’ bumper at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival last February, Lorna Fowler’s mare was an impressive winner of her bumper at Thurles later that month, and she was good too in winning her maiden hurdle back at Thurles in March. This was her first run since, it was her fifth race ever and just her second over hurdles. She should be able to build on this now and, a three-parts sister to Lexus Chase winner and Gold Cup third Don Poli, she could do even better if and when she steps up in trip.

Down Royal, 30th October 2020

Chris’s Dream

The Storyteller and Gordon Elliott and Keith Donoghue deservedly captured all the headlines following the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal on Saturday, but Chris’s Dream ran a big race to run him to a neck.

Henry de Bromhead’s horse travelled strongly behind the pace that Alpha Des Obeaux set, and his jumping was superb, as it usually is. He made his ground nicely on the outside for Robbie Power, and he arrived there in the front rank on the run to the second last fence, with Presenting Percy to his right and The Storyteller to his left. Another good jump at the second last fence took him to the front, and he looked like the most likely winner, he traded at 1.11 in-running, before just getting run out of it close home by The Storyteller.

Chris’s Dream has the profile of a stayer, he beat Champagne Classic in the Ten Up Chase over three miles at Navan as a novice, and he won the Troytown Chase back at Navan last November on soft ground. But he won his beginners’ chase over two and a half miles, and he made all the running to win the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park last February over the intermediate trip.

It may be that he can be more effective over two and a half miles than over three miles or further. He can be ridden aggressively over the shorter trip, and he can gain maximum benefit from his fast and fluent jumping. He would be an interesting contender for the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown next month if connections decided to allow him take his chance there.

Down Royal, 31st October 2020

Massey’s Wood

Massey’s Wood looked very good in winning the three-mile handicap chase at Down Royal on Saturday.

Starting off in mid-division and along the inside, Barry Connell’s horse jumped the first two fences really well, which took him up into a prominent position. He jumped into a clear lead over the fourth last fence, and he wasn’t headed after that.

His jumping impressed most. He took on his fences with real enthusiasm, he was very good when he was long and, even when he got in a little tight, he was fast and efficient and still seemed to gain ground. Challenged by the favourite Paranoid on the run to the second last fence, he picked up well for Mark Bolger, jumped the last two fences well and stayed on strongly up the run-in to win by four and a half lengths.

Massey’s Wood is eight now rising nine, but this was his seasonal debut, and it was just his fourth run over fences, so there is every chance that he can progress from this. He was well beaten in all three runs last season over fences but, while he was a good hurdler two seasons ago – he beat last season’s Ultima Chase winner and Ladbrokes Trophy runner-up The Conditional in a three-mile maiden hurdle at Thurles in February 2018 – he jumps his fences so well that he could make up into a much better chaser now.

The handicapper will have his say now, but he has the potential to improve as the season develops, and it is interesting that his owner/trainer mentioned the Paddy Power Chase at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival as a possibility. That type of jumping test at Leopardstown could suit him really well.

Down Royal, 31st October 2020

Colonel Mustard

Colonel Mustard ultimately couldn’t go with Ballyadam when he quickened from the second last flight in the two-mile maiden hurdle at Down Royal on Saturday, but he still ran a fine race to finish second to Gordon Elliott’s horse.

Settled in third place behind Still Standing and Ballyadam early on, Colonel Mustard was a little keener than ideal through the early stages of the race. He was a little novicey in his jumping too on occasion, but he still travelled well to the top of the track with three to jump. He got in a little tight to the third last, which allowed Still Standing and Ballyadam get away from him a little, but he made up the ground fairly easily and he travelled well in Ballyadam’s slipstream to the second last flight. Again, he got in tight to that obstacle, and Ballyadam zipped away. It didn’t make any material difference to the result, the winner was very impressive, but Colonel Mustard kept on well to finish a clear second, well clear of bumper winner and point-to-point winner Hes A Hardy Bloke in third.

There is no knowing how good Ballyadam could be, but the passage of time may show that this was a fair run by Colonel Mustard to chase him home. Ballyadam’s stable companion Envoi Allen won this race last year, and we know what he went on to do afterwards, but Front View and Entoucas finished second and third respectively in last year’s renewal, and they both progressed through the season to reach ratings of 135.

Second on his racecourse debut at Killarney in August to a good mare of Willie Mullins, Purple Mountain, who has since run out an impressive winner of a listed mares’ bumper, Colonel Mustard was impressive himself in winning his own bumper at Punchestown in late September, when the front two finished clear. From the family of St Leger winner Masked Marvel, Lorna Fowler’s horse is a talented individual, and he should continue to progress over hurdles as he gains experience.

Punchestown, 31st October 2020

Rocky’s Silver

Rocky’s Silver put up a fine performance to finish second in the Paddy Power Cork Grand National on Sunday.

Starting off towards the rear of the field, he had moved into mid-division by the time they passed the winning post with a circuit to run. He continued to make good progress up the back straight final time, and he travelled well just behind the front rank as they left the back straight. A mistake at the fourth last fence checked his momentum a bit, and Conor Orr had to ride him along as they rounded the home turn. No better than seventh at that point, he had progressed to be within range when they jumped the third last fence, and he continued to keep on, he jumped the second last in second place behind the ultimate winner Dromore Lad. From there, he couldn’t go with the winner, who stayed on well to win nicely, but he kept on admirably on the far side, probably on the worst of the ground, to finish a clear second.

Winner of two of his four chases last season, Rocky’s Silver had been pulled up in his final two races last term. But James Dullea’s horse had run well on his seasonal return in a handicap hurdle at Tipperary 11 days earlier, and this was probably a career-best effort. He should be able to build on this too, he is only seven and he could progress this term as a staying chaser. He stays well, and he handles soft ground well, and he will be of interest in any of the good staying handicap chases during the winter. His best runs over fences to date have been at right-handed tracks though, Limerick and Punchestown and now Cork, and he does tend to jump a little to his right, so it may be that he continues to be at his best going right-handed.

Cork, 1st November 2020

©, 2nd November 2020