Horses To Follow » Imphal


Imphal did remarkably well to finish second to Ardhill in the three-mile handicap hurdle that opened proceedings at Ascot on Saturday. For starters, he was really badly hampered at the first flight. He was last on the run to the obstacle, and he jumped a little to his left. He had to avoid one faller Itsnotwhatyouthink, and then he had his momentum further checked by the other faller Pass Me By. He did really well to stand up, and Jamie Moore did really well to remain on board. If his rider had pulled him up there and then, you wouldn’t have been at all surprised.

The incident left him miles behind, a detached last of the 14 remaining runners, but his rider allowed him time to find his racing rhythm again, and creep his way back into the race. He got back in among them as they raced up the home straight first time, made progress down the side of the track, and continued that progress, travelling well, on the run to the home turn. He was around the inside, which probably wasn’t the fastest part of the track, and he came under a ride as they raced to the home turn. You expected that he would drop away at that point, given how much running he had done in order to just get back in among the pack, but he responded to his rider’s urgings and, while he was never a real challenger to easy winner Ardhill, he stayed on game on the far side to take second place behind him, and that was after making a mistake at the final flight.

Imphal is seven now, but he has been in really good form this autumn, winning three handicap hurdles on the spin before finishing a staying-on third in a two-mile-seven-furlong handicap hurdle at Lingfield at the end of November. This was another step forward from that, and a 2lb hike was not harsh. He wouldn’t want the ground to be too soft, but he stays well and, rated 76 on the flat, he has the potential to go beyond his mark of 113 over hurdles.
Ascot, 18th December 2021