James Boyle’s Horses To Follow – Week Thirty-One
A nothing week to report, although some of the horses ran tremendously well. Merry King tops the lot as he ran a stonking race to finish third in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury and at one point it looked as if he could go on to win the race. Sadly, his finishing effort late on wasn’t brilliant and he had to settle for a place.
Novirak held the same position on his first start over hurdles in an 18-runner field at Doncaster. His jumping was far from brilliant but it wasn’t terrible either and I would suspect that he has more to offer in the code, particularly when stepped up in trip. If he improved for the experience, it won’t take long for him to get a win.
There was a no-show from Showboating at Wolverhampton, that despite being sent off as a well-backed 11/8 favourite. Anyone who was punting him at those sort of odds needs their heads tested, but better can be expected sometime in the near future… particularly when he avoids missing the break for a change.
Secret Witness is finally removed from the list following a crap run around Kempton. I had hoped that he’d find his form again now that the handicapper was giving him a chance, but it was wishful thinking as it’s worse he’s getting. Maybe age is playing a part as he’ll be a 9-year-old in a few weeks, although it’s not long since he was unfortunate not to win a York handicap off 92… so I don’t know! Indian Castle is another that should come off the list following a brutal run at Newcastle in the Rehearsal Chase but I’ll give him one more chance to prove that he’s not gone at the game. Midnight Appeal (fourth at Newbury) is also persisted with.
HTF representatives with entries this week; Filbert & Shamaheart.
Horses To Follow – Week Thirty-One:
Liberty One (27th November) –
Most of the horses to follow are picked on account of possibly having deceptive form and I thought that Liberty One shaped a lot better than the end result would suggest over 2m 6f at Newbury last Thursday. In a decent handicap for novices won by the impressive Ned Stark, the former three-time winning point-to-pointer finished fourth of the eight runners and although beaten 23-lengths in the end, looked likely to score at one point. His jumping for the most part was sound, as it was at Exeter in a good race the time before, but he visibly got tired in the home straight after travelling well to dispute the lead and I got the impression that he wasn’t overly keen on the testing underfoot conditions. They blunted his finishing effort completely, it would seem, and better can be expected the next time he encounters a sounder surface over a similar trip. Off 126, he could be nicely treated in the longer term.
Smad Place (29th November) –
The Hennessy Gold Cup is always a war of attrition and despite the fact that plenty of runners have won it first time up without a recent spin, I got the impression that Alan King’s Smad Place would have performed a lot better had he been given a prep run. The grey – who was last seen finishing a neck-second in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March – ended up finishing in fifth place behind Many Clouds and that was after jumping around like a buck and travelling wonderfully until they were swinging for home. In the straight, he didn’t have enough in reserve to go on with the main contenders, got tired and hit a couple of fences. That left him with no chance, obviously, but there was so much promise for such a long way that I think the horse could be in for another fruitful season, all going well. He has everything needed to win some decent races and I’m going to keep him on side.
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