Horses To Follow » HTF

Front View

Front View stayed on well to finish third in a good beginners’ chase at Thurles on Thursday. Settled towards the rear of the field early on by J J Slevin, he wasn’t overly fluent over the first three fences, with the result that he was last of the 13 runners as they left the back straight. Kept wide in search of better ground, his jumping warmed up as the race developed, even if he did tend to move to his right on occasion. He couldn’t get close to leaders Franco De Port and Whatsnottoknow, who had it between them from a long way out, but he stayed on well from the third last fence to just catch Eleazar Des Neiges for third place.

The first two home are talented horses, Franco De Port was sent off as 10/1 joint fourth favourite for the Coral Cup in March, racing off a mark of 148, while Whatsnottoknow finished eighth behind Shishkin in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Front View was a good bumper horse himself, and he was progressive last season as a novice hurdler. Joseph O’Brien’s horse beat his stable companion Uhtred and the Willie Mullins-trained Jon Snow in a maiden hurdle at Cork last November, and he finished a good second to Five O’Clock in the Grade 3 Michael Purcell Memorial Hurdle at Thurles in February, when he didn’t have a good run through the race, after which he was sent off as favourite for the Martin Pipe Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. It didn’t really happen for him there but, out of a mare who won over fences in France and related to chasers, he could make up into a good novice chaser this term.

Thurles, 26th November 2020


Editeur Du Gite

Editeur Du Gite ran better than the bare form of the run suggests in the two-mile novices’ chase. Send to the front from flagfall by Joshua Moore, his jumping was good and he set a fast tempo. He travelled well into the home straight, but he was joined by Eritage at the second last fence, and he just weakened from there as his early exertions told. He only finished fifth in the end.

Gary Moore’s horse is a free-going sort. He was only just caught by Sully D’Oc AA at Ascot on his pervious run, that was over two miles and three furlongs, and the drop to two miles should have suited him. But the ground was good at Newbury on Friday, and there was plenty of pace in the race, with the result that he probably went faster than ideal earlier than ideal. He should be seen to better effect back on soft ground over two miles, ideally in a race in which he won’t face too much competition for the early lead.

Newbury, 27th November 2020


Caribean Boy

Caribean Boy was impressive in winning the Grade 2 Berkshire novices’ chase. Weak in the market beforehand, Nicky Henderson’s horse was quickly into a good racing rhythm in front for Daryl Jacob, and his jumping was very good. He out-jumped the odds-on favourite Fiddlerontheroof at several of his obstacles and, while that rival moved up to challenge at the fourth last fence, and actually jumped ahead at the third last, Daryl Jacob didn’t panic. He just cajoled his horse forward, jumped the second last back upsides, moved ahead on the run to the last and came clear up the run-in.

It was only a three-horse race, but Fiddlerontheroof is rated 152 and third-placed Getaway Trump is rated 144, and both of them had race-fitness on their side, but Caribean Boy beat them both well. The market suggested that he might come on for the run, and the largely conservative ride that Daryl Jacob gave him was consistent with that notion, so it may be that there is much more to come from him now this season. He doesn’t qualify for novice chases any more, but he jumps so well that he should be well up to open grade. Winner of a chase at Haydock last February on heavy ground, he proved here that he can operate on good ground too. The handicapper raised him by 10lb to a mark of 154, but he is only six and this was just his third run over fences, so there could be plenty more to come.

Newbury, 27th November 2020


Milkwood

Milkwood can be marked up at least a little on the bare form of the performance that he put up in finishing third in the Gerry Feilden Hurdle. Settled towards the rear of the field early on off what was no more than a moderate pace, he jumped well and travelled well through his race for Robbie Dunne. A little keen, but not as keen as some of his rivals, most notably favourite Marie’s Rock and Thyme White, he moved up nicely at the end of the back straight, and he travelled well into the home straight. He made good ground towards the far side on the run to the second last flight, but space was tight over towards the inside at the obstacle, he was squeezed out on the approach to the flight and he was hampered on the landing side when Thyme White unseated his rider in front of him. He lost ground and momentum, and suddenly he was only fifth and eight lengths behind the leader Floressa. Floressa had made just about all the running, and she kicked for home and wasn’t for catching, but Milkwood stayed on well down the near side to take third place, beaten just two lengths.

It was a good run from a progressive horse. Winner of an intermediate hurdle at Ffos Las on his debut this season, he ran well to finish fourth behind Sceau Royal and Ballyandy and Buzz in the Welsh Champion Hurdle back there two weeks later, form that has been enhanced on several occasions since, including by Ballyandy, who finished second in the Greatwood Hurdle next time. Milkwood was taken out of the Greatwood Hurdle because of the soft ground, but he probably maintained his forward march here. There is a danger that he will be over-bet next time, in the way that unlucky-looking losers often are, but he is still a young, talented and progressive horse who should be worth noting wherever he goes next.

Newbury, 28th November 2020


Ardlethen

Ardlethen ran well to finish sixth in the Ladbrokes Trophy. Settled back in the field and towards the inside early on by Harry Skelton, he jumped and travelled well through his race and he made nice ground as they raced towards the end of the back straight. He came under pressure as they raced to the home turn, but he picked up in the home straight and he jumped into seventh place over the fourth last. He landed over the third last in fourth place, but his progress just flattened out from there, the first three got away from him, and he just kept on to take sixth place.      Dan Skelton’s horse may do better when he can get back on softer ground. All his good form last year was on soft or heavy ground. Also, it may be that this three-and-a-quarter-mile trip just stretched him. He has good form over two and a half miles, and it may be that three miles on soft ground will be optimal for him now. He is only seven, and this was just his eighth run over fences.

Newbury, 28th November 2020


Emily Moon

Emily Moon travelled like the most likely winner for a long way in the two-and-a-half-mile mares’ handicap chase. Settled nicely back in the field and towards the outside early on by Robbie Power, she travelled well early on, if a little keenly. She was a little bit long at the third fence, but apart from that, her jumping was good in the main, if a little to her left on occasion. She travelled strongly down the side of the track and she moved up nicely on the outside to move into third place as they rounded the home turn. She appeared to be travelling best as they straightened up for home, but she came under pressure on landing over the second last, and she just couldn’t get to the two leaders. She weakened on the run to the last, and she just kept on up the run-in to finish fifth.

This was Emily Moon’s first run over two and a half miles over fences, and it looked like the distance stretched her stamina beyond its limit on the heavy ground. She has run three times over two and a half miles over hurdles, and she has come up short on all three occasions. She did win a mares’ beginners’ chase over two and a quarter miles at Thurles in March on her chasing debut, and it may be that she will be seen to best effect over fences back over that type of trip or even back over two miles, especially on winter ground. She used to be a front-runner over hurdles, and it may be that a switch to more aggressive tactics over fences would suit her well at a shorter trip. She will be interesting too when she runs at a left-handed track over fences. She does tend to go to her left a little over her fences, and her four runs over fences to date have all been at right-handed tracks. She could be a well-handicapped horse over fences on a mark of 126, 3lb lower than her hurdles mark.

Fairyhouse, 29th November 2020


N’golo

N’Golo did well to get as close as he did to Ballyadam in the Royal Bond Hurdle. They didn’t go a great pace early on, and he ran keenly for much of the race. Still keen in third place on the inside as they turned to race to the fourth last flight, he wasn’t great at that obstacle, and he got caught a little on the inside as they raced to the home turn and the pace started to quicken. Shuffled back to fifth as they straightened up, he wasn’t great at the second last flight, and he had to move to the outside in order to deliver a challenge. By then, Ballyadam had kicked for home, chased by Cask Mate, and N’Golo had to get out after them. He jumped the final flight well and he stayed on strongly up the run-in to get to within a half a length of runner-up Cask Mate, two lengths behind Ballyadam.

It was a good run by Willie Mullins’ horse in a top class contest in which he didn’t have the run of the race. A winner at the Galway and Listowel festivals during the summer, he stepped forward on anything that he had done before when he landed the Grade 3 For Auction Hurdle over two miles at Navan in early November. This was another step forward from that, and he should be able to do even better in a more strongly-run race. He is a horse who reportedly is not overly impressive at home and, as such, it may be that he continues to be a little under-rated.

Fairyhouse, 29th November 2020


Forza Milan

Forza Milan ran well in the Porterstown Handicap Chase. He was a little keen in mid-division early on for Gavin Brouder. He was still keen as they raced up by the stands with a circuit to go, but he moved up nicely as they raced up to Ballyhack, and he travelled well just behind the leaders as they raced to the fourth last fence. He progressed from there, he jumped to the front over the third last, and he led around the home turn. He was joined by Court Maid and Brace Yourself at the second last, and those two progressive novices went away from him from there, as he tired. He was ultimately just caught by Captain Cj for third place.

It was still a fine run by James Nash’s horse. He hasn’t won over fences yet, but he was a good staying novice chaser last season. He finished second to Castlebawn West in a good beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day, and he finished second to Carefully Selected in a Grade 3 contest at Naas later in January, before he went to Cheltenham and finished an admittedly fairly remote fourth behind Ravenhill and Lord Du Mesnil in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham in March. His first three runs this season were well below his best novice form, but this was much more like it. He did well to get as close as he did given that he raced keenly for much of the race. A good hurdler when he was with Jonjo O’Neill, there should be a staying handicap chase in him off this type of mark in the mid-130s. The Irish Grand National, over the Porterstown course and distance, would not be an unreasonable long-term aim.

Fairyhouse, 29th November 2020


Drop The Anchor

Drop The Anchor was a little unlucky not to finish closer than he did in the two-mile handicap hurdle. He got into a good position early on just behind the leaders and one off the rail in the second wave, up on the outside of Ciel De Neige. It never appeared as if he was travelling as well as that rival though. He wasn’t overly fluent at a couple of his hurdles, and he came under pressure on the run around the home turn, at which point it looked like he was struggling. He did pick up on the run to the second last flight, but Eclair De Beaufeu fell at that obstacle in front of him, causing him to lose ground and momentum. Simon Torrens got him going again, but he wasn’t fluent at the final flight either and, while Advanced Virgo ran out an impressive winner, he did well to keep on up the run-in to get up for third place behind him and Cayd Boy.

Pat Fahy’s horse won just once in six runs last season, but he looks like an improved performer this term. He battled on well to get the better of Getaway Gorgeous in a handicap hurdle at the Listowel Festival in September off a mark of 122 and, raised 7lb for that, he was under pressure but he wasn’t a spent force when he was brought down at the second last flight in a handicap hurdle at Down Royal at the end of October. He races as if he would appreciate a step back up in trip, but he was beaten three times over two and a half miles last season, and it may just be that he will be at his best in a true test over two miles, ideally a fast-run race on soft ground at a stiff track. He will be of interest if he takes his chance in some of the big two-mile handicap hurdles in which a good pace is usually likely, the Betfair Exchange Trophy at Ascot in December or the Ladbrokes Hurdle at Leopardstown in February or the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February or the County Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

Fairyhouse, 29th November 2020


Eclair De Beaufeu

Eclair De Beaufeu was running a big race in the two-mile handicap hurdle when he came down at the second last flight.

Settled nicely early on in fourth place, he travelled well for Jack Wildman just behind the leaders. He was sticky enough over a few of his hurdles, which was understandable, given that he hadn’t run over hurdles since April 2019, with the result that he got shuffled back a little bit in the field in terms of positions, but he wasn’t any more than four lengths off the pace going to the third last flight. He landed a bit awkwardly at that obstacle and dropped to eighth as a consequence but, given a squeeze by his rider and moved towards the outside, he picked up nicely and moved into second place on the run to the second last flight. He just clipped the top of that obstacle though, and came down.

This was Gordon Elliott’s horse’s first run over hurdles since he finished last of six in a Grade 2 hurdle at the Fairyhouse Irish National meeting in 2019. He has progressed well over fences in the interim, he won a valuable handicap chase at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February, and he finished second behind his stable companion Chosen Mate in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham in March off a handicap rating of 149. He was racing off his hurdles mark of 135 on Sunday, and he proved that he could still be competitive off that mark over hurdles. He will be of interest if connections decide to allow him take his chance in another handicap hurdle off this type of mark, and he will also be of interest if and when he goes back over fences. He is only six and, all going well, there could still be more to come.

Fairyhouse, 29th November 2020


Ronald Pump

Ronald Pump did well to stay on as well as he did to take second place behind Honeysuckle in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. This was one of a few races on the day that were not run at a great pace. Rachael Blackmore sat up on the outside of early leader Cracking Smart from flagfall on Honeysuckle, and she moved to the front on the run to the home turn before kicking on the run to the second last. Ronald Pump travelled well for Keith Donoghue on the inside in behind the two leaders. He came under pressure as they rounded the home turn, and he got a little out-paced as Honeysuckle and Beacon Edge kicked on, but he stayed on well from the second last flight, and he finished strongly up the run-in to finish second, just a half a length behind Honeysuckle.

The sedate pace over two and a half miles was never going to be a positive for Matthew Smith’s horse. To put the weakness of the pace into context, according to rough hand-timings, Honeysuckle got from the second flight – also the first flight in the two-mile hurdle races – in a time that was around 17 seconds slower than the time that it took Zanahiyr to cover the same ground in the juveniles’ hurdle. Okay, so Honeysuckle had gone an extra half a mile before she got to the second flight, but she got from the third last to the winning line in a time that was just under three seconds faster than the time that it took Zanahiyr to cover the same distance of ground, and that was also after running a half a mile further before she got to that point. Ronald Pump had had the benefit of a run, he fell at the final flight in the Lismullen Hurdle when he was probably booked for third or fourth, but he proved his class last season when he finished second in the Stayers’ Hurdle, and that was after reportedly getting struck into and losing a shoe. The Grade 1 three-mile Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival is the obvious race for him now. That is a meeting at which he finished second in the Pertemps qualifier over the Christmas Hurdle course and distance last year, on his only run to date at the track. He is still only seven, and it may be that he is still an under-rated horse.

Fairyhouse, 29th November 2020