Horses To Follow » Craigneiche


Craigneiche sprang a mild surprise by winning the Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday, but he ran out an impressive winner, and it may be that he will still be under-rated after this.

Nicky Henderson’s horse was weak in the market too, on this, his first run in over a year, and he reportedly wasn’t on his best behaviour beforehand. He was a little keen too through the early stages of the race, despite the fact that Paddys Motorbike set a good pace. He was kept towards the outside by Tom Cannon, probably with a view to giving him a good sight of his hurdles, given his lack of experience, but that probably wasn’t a disadvantage, the better ground was probably towards the outside.

Still keen as they raced into Swinley Bottom, he moved up on the outside of leaders Paddys Motorbike and Kateson on the run to the fourth last flight. He came under pressure on landing over that obstacle, it appeared as if he wasn’t travelling as well as the two leaders, or as well as some of his rivals in behind, including Arrivederci and Dans Le Vent, and he looked booked for third place at best as they rounded the home turn and as Dans Le Vent started to stay on from the rear, but he found lots in the home straight. He was almost upsides new leader Kateson at the second last flight, he had moved into a three-length lead by the time they jumped the last, and he stayed on well up the run-in to win by seven lengths in the end in a good time.

The handicapper raised him by 12lb for this to a mark of 139, but he has the potential to go higher still. Winner of his only bumper, he finished third to The Big Breakaway in a novices’ hurdle at Newbury on his debut last season and, on his only other run last term, he won his maiden hurdle at Doncaster last January. This was his first run since, and it was his first handicap, so his potential for further progression is obvious. He stays this two-and-a-half-mile trip well and, out of a bumper winner, he raced here as if he would have no problem stepping up in trip. He will be of interest in another handicap now off his new mark of 139. The Heroes Handicap Hurdle over three miles at Sandown on Scilly Isles Chase day could be a good next step for him. That, or the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle back at Ascot on Ascot Chase day.
Ascot, 23rd January 2021