James Boyle’s Horses To Follow – Week Thirty-Three
Nothing worse than hitting the crossbar and although none were unlucky, a couple of the HTF runners in the last week had to settle for second. Barrakilla put up a solid effort in the December Gold Cup at Cheltenham, only finding the well-ridden Niceonefrankie too strong and given the fact that it was just his second outing in a handicap since losing his novice status, there’s every chance that he will learn and improve for it. There is plenty of untapped potential and any rating in the 130’s is one that he can exploit before the season is out.
Astracad isn’t open to improvement like Evan Williams’ charge but he also finished second in a Cheltenham handicap and showed his current well-being to be decent. Running over the extended 2-mile trip didn’t help, for all the fact that is was on the new course did, and he remains one to be interested in going forward once stepped up at least a couple of furlongs in distance. There’s a handicap in him somewhere, especially now that he’s only rated 135, and hopefully he’s winning it sooner rather than later. It’s long, long, long overdue.
There were a couple of others who ran but didn’t place. Liberty One, however, ran an excellent race having been well-backed and might have fared better had he jumped a bit quicker. I thought he was overly careful at plenty of his fences but he still finished nicely enough up the hill having got outpaced coming into the last half-mile or so. There’s still more to emerge from his chasing locker and I won’t be giving up for a while. He’s too well-handicapped (albeit that’s more to do with potential than actual form!), in my opinion, not to win a race in the code. Shamaheart stepped up in trip, again at Wolverhampton, and also performed with credit, all things considered. He’s not obviously thrown-in but can pop up to land something in the coming weeks/months.
HTF representatives with entries this week; Clockmaker, Drop Out Joe & Novirak. Not very busy!
Horses To Follow – Week Thirty-Three:
Firmdecisions (11th December) –
Dean Ivory’s operation is one that I’ve got plenty of time for and Firmdecisions, one of his most recent recruits, is of interest going forward on the All-Weather. The 4-year-old was a three-time winner when in the care of Brett Johnson but, having left him sometime after finishing tailed-off in an Epsom sprint towards the end of August, he showed something close to career-best form when returning over 7f at Kempton last Thursday. He finished third, just a length behind Related, and the form looks rock-solid for the grade, especially when you consider that it was run at a strong pace. Maybe that found Firmdecisions out somewhat as it was his first run in nearly four months and although he has gone well fresh before, it’s possible that he’ll come on for it. Another positive is that he seems far better on the AW than on turf, so this is his time of year and he’ll be of interest to me in handicaps for a while.
Rydan (10th December) –
There’s no doubting that Rydan needs to find further improvement if he’s to defy his current mark of 101, but the Robert Mills trained 3-year-old is far from exposed on the AW scene and I think that a quality handicap over 10-12f could come his way if he’s kept on the go, whilst there’s always the option of stepping into Listed races. The son of Intense Focus had looked like a useful sort on turf, without being anything spectacular, but his form has taken off since he was tried on polytrack for the first time since his only start as a juvenile and it seems to be what he has been crying out for. He first won by 6-lengths in a handicap off 86 (1m 3f), then finished a close third in a Listed race (1m 4f) before running equally as well on Wednesday to finish fifth in a hot renewal of the London Middle Distance Series Final. I think that he’s better than the bare form suggests as he sat too far back and then made his move up the unfavoured inside rail – it possibly explains why he didn’t run to his previous with runner-up Grendisar – and progress can be expected in the not too distant future.
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