Horses To Follow » HTF – Ireland

Sayce Gold

Sayce Gold was impressive in winning the mares’ bumper at Fairyhouse on Tuesday. She was admittedly allowed an easy enough lead, but she couldn’t have been much more impressive than she was in winning. Chris O’Donovan quickly had his mare into a nice racing rhythm in front, and she picked up nicely when he gave her a squeeze as they raced to the home turn. The Mean Queen made progress into second place in the home straight, but it never looked like she was going to get close to Sayce Gold. Michael Winters’ mare just coasted from the two-furlong pole and won easily.

It looks like there is some solidity to the form too. Runner-up The Mean Queen, beaten five lengths, had won her only point-to-point and was strong in the market beforehand, while third placed Eyre Square, another three lengths back in third, had finished second in her only point-to-point, and the first three home – the first three in the market too – finished nicely clear of the rest of the field. A point-to-point winner herself, Sayce Gold had finished third behind subsequent Grade 2 bumper runner-up and maiden hurdle winner Carigeen Lotus and subsequent bumper winner The West Awaits in a mares’ bumper at Cork in January. This was her first run since, so there is every chance that she will come on for it, and she will be of interest wherever she goes next.

Fairyhouse, 10th November 2020

Royal Kahala

Royal Kahala looked good in winning the mares’ hurdle at Fairyhouse on Friday. Sixth of the group of seven that broke away on the run to the home turn, Peter Fahey’s mare travelled really well up on the outside for Kevin Sexton, past the struggling favourite Darling Daughter, and she moved up to challenge the leader The Getaway Star on the run to the final flight. She got in tight to the final obstacle, but she was fast on the landing side, she was quickly away from it and, once her rider gave her a squeeze, she cleared away on the run-in impressively.

Darling Daughter, who won the Grade 2 mares’ bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival last February, probably under-performed, but favourite The Getaway Star appeared to run her race. She had finished a close-up fourth in the Grade 3 mares’ novices’ hurdle at the Down Royal Champion Chase meeting two weeks earlier, and she should have been suited by the step up to two and a half miles. Yet, Royal Kahala came away from her on the run-in, and Declan Queally’s mare was, in turn, nicely clear of the rest. A promising second behind Castra Vetera in a mares’ bumper on her racecourse debut at Naas last March, Royal Kahala was an impressive winner of her bumper at Fairyhouse 10 days before this. She should improve as her jumping becomes more fluent, and she is a scopey mare who has lots of potential for progression.

Fairyhouse, 10th November 2020

Felix Desjy

Felix Desjy did well to win the Grade 2 Mongey Communications Novice Chase at Punchestown on Saturday. Setting off in front, as is his wont, he was out to his left a little at his early fences, which wasn’t ideal at right-handed Punchestown. He was passed by Emily Moon at the fifth last fence, and he dropped to third when Sizing Pottsie passed him on his inside on the run to the fourth last, but Jack Kennedy never really looked worried. He seemed to be happy enough to take a lead. He didn’t look too worried either when Sizing Pottsie kicked into a clear lead on the run to the third last fence, he didn’t really ask his horse for his effort until they started around the home turn but, when he did, Felix Desjy responded well. He joined the leader at the last and stayed on better to go on and win by two lengths.

It was a good ride by Jack Kennedy, he wasn’t sucked into a battle for the lead at the end of the back straight and, actually, Felix Desjy’s jumping was straighter when he was in behind horses than it had been when he led. And it was a good performance by Felix Desjy. He is a classy horse, a 151-rated hurdler who won a Moscow Flyer Hurdle and a Top Novices’ Hurdle as a novice hurdler, and sent off as favourite for this year’s Galway Hurdle, and he is an interesting recruit to chasing. It appears that he is settling better now over fences than he did over hurdles as he gains in maturity, and he is now two for two over the larger obstacles. His main rival on Saturday, Darver Star, probably under-performed on the heavy ground, but he still did well to beat a good horse in Sizing Pottsie, a second-season novice who is rated 148 over fences. The two-mile Grade 1 novices’ chase at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival looks like a good race for him now, and it may be that he will be even better going left-handed over fences than going right.

Punchestown, 14th November 2020

Lifetime Ambition

Lifetime Ambition ran very well on his hurdling debut to finish second to Fighter Allen in the two-mile-five-and-a-half-furlong maiden hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday. Nicely settled early on by Sean O’Keeffe in mid-division and towards the inside, his jumping was good for a debutant. He made good progress from the third last flight to move well in behind the leaders, but he stumbled a little on landing over the second last, which wasn’t ideal, just as the pace was increasing. Ridden along in fifth place as they rounded the home turn, he stuck to his task well on the inside. He moved into third place on the run to the last, and he stayed on strongly up the run-in to get to within three parts of a length of favourite Fighter Allen by the time they got to the winning line.

The winner may have been idling or tiring in front but, a half-brother to Envoi Allen, he could be very good, and Lifetime Ambition did well to continue to close on him all the way to the line. In so doing, Jessica Harrington’s horse came three and a half lengths clear of Idas Boy, a point-to-point winner and a dual bumper runner-up who was another interesting hurdling debutant. Lifetime Ambition is a point-to-point winner himself. He was well beaten in his two bumpers last winter, and he was weak in the market on this, his first run over hurdles and his first run since February, so there is every chance that he will improve for this run. Out of a sister to the high-class mare J’y Vole, he could improve too for a step up to three miles on this evidence. He could be winning his maiden soon before stepping up in grade.

Punchestown, 15th November 2020

Black Tears

Black Tears ran well for a long way on her seasonal debut in the listed mares’ hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday. She travelled well in second place behind early leader Magic Of Light, until she moved up on the inside over the third last flight and took up the running. She was immediately challenged by Elimay as they jumped the second last, but it looked like she was travelling at least as well as Willie Mullins’ mare as they rounded the home turn. She came under pressure as they straightened up for home, and she just tired from there, as Buildmeupbuttercup and Elimay fought out the finish ahead of her, and Jack Kennedy eased off on her on the run-in.

It was still a fine run by Gordon Elliott’s mare. She hasn’t won in four attempts now on her seasonal debut – although she went close last season – and she was entitled to get tired on the run-in on this, her first run since March. That last run was in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival, when she ran a big race to finish second to Dame De Compagnie off a mark of 144. She should come on for this run, and she will be of interest wherever she goes next. It may be that the Grade 3 mares’ hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival, a race in which she finished third last year, is on her radar again. She goes well at Leopardstown, on her only other run there she won the Paddy Mullins Mares’ Handicap Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival in February, and she progressed nicely through the spring last season.

Punchestown, 15th November 2020

©, 16th November 2020