We may now be firmly in the grip of the 2012 Flat season but on Saturday I had both eyes securely fixed on the competitive Swinton Hurdle (now called the Pertemps Network Hurdle) at Haydock. This was the last race of the ‘season’ for my own personal National Hunt service and despite the winner RED MERLIN running out a classy (and profitable!) winner on the day it was horse a couple of places back that caught my attention.
Here is my main NTF to follow horse from the the weekend (and possibly the last National Hunt to follow horse for a couple of months) -
DOUBLE ROSS (Nigel Twiston-Davies) – Saturday – 3.40 Haydock – 3rd in the 2m Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle
This was a sterling front-running effort from the 6yo in a race that is extremely difficult to try and take from the front (the last 15 renewals have produced 4 close to pace winners and 11 held-up winners). The Twiston-Davies trained gelding was right in the firing-line for the majority of the contest and if it hadn’t been for him flattening the 2nd last flight he may well have given Red Merlin more of a fight in the finish. His pedigree is laden with stamina influences and this can be seen in his tough, grinding front-running nature; he doesn’t have much in the way of a turn of pace and prefers to try to batter his field into submission. I imagine his sights will now be turned towards the chasing game and he does look to have the correct physique to mature into a better chaser than hurdler.
Early indications suggest that he may be more at home on softer ground -
Form on Soft or worse ground – 3-1-3-2-3 (Best RPR figure 134)
Form on Good to Soft or better – 3-5-0-8-2 (Best RPR figure 126)
This is clearly not conclusive proof but the softer ground is likely to bring his wealth of stamina into play and allow him ample opportunity to grind his opposition into the ground.
Assuming his next step is over the larger obstacles he looks an exciting prospect for the 2012/13 National Hunt season.
Ben – (NTF)