Under the Radar #6

National Hunt racing’s biggest stars graced our racecourses a fortnight ago, but some other brilliant displays may have gone unnoticed.

Ahorsewithnoname (2nd)

Maroon and black silks, (Nicky Henderson)

Saturday 28th November – 12.10 Newbury

Despite being given a hands-and-heels ride by Nico de Boinville to ‘blow away the cobwebs’ after a 439-day break, Ahorsewithnoname stayed on well and grabbed second in a competitive Class 1.

Nicky Henderson’s mare jumped fluently and made just one mistake at the third-last.

The winner, Pink Sheets, set a fast pace and never looked like she would be caught once she set sail for home. Of the horses behind her, Ahorsewithnoname was the fastest finisher.

In a slower run contest I would fancy Ahorsewithnoname’s chances, especially now she has the run under her belt.

Thyme White (Unseated Rider)

Red, black and white silks, (Paul Nicholls)

Saturday 28th November – 14.25 Newbury

With the Paul Nicholls yard in such brilliant form it came as no surprise to see Thyme White cruise into contention in a competitive Listed Class 1 race at Newbury last Saturday. But the four-year-old made a bad mistake two-out and unseated jockey Harry Cobden when he looked likely to challenge long-time leader Floressa.

The gelding travelled well and was still held together as he approached two-out. Thyme White then hesitated and jumped left at the hurdle and was short of room on landing. He bumped into Botox Has which unbalanced Cobden who, despite his best efforts, fell.

Thyme White has shown before that he finds more off the bridle, so I think that he would have won had he not had made that error, especially as Cobden had still not asked any questions. Hopefully, in his next few races, Thyme White will make up for his and add to his three career victories.

Milkwood

Blue and yellow silks, (Neil Mulholland)

Saturday 28th November – 14.25 Newbury

When Thyme Hill unseated Cobden at the weekend, it wasn’t just his chances of winning that were lost, he also cost Milkwood his opportunity to win his first Class 1.

Robert Dunne’s mount tracked Thyme White from four-out, then began to weave his way through the field. When Thyme White unseated he badly hampered Milkwood, who was then brought to a halt after the jump to avoid the now-loose horse. The interference cost the gelding all his momentum, which allowed Floressa to surge clear.

The six-year-old probably came off the bridle earlier than Dunne would have anticipated, but Milkwood still stayed on very strongly for third. Given that the gelding had to rebuild all of his momentum and settle again, the way Milkwood hit the line was impressive and showed that he is more than capable of winning races at this level.

Ronald Pump (2nd)

Green and blue silks, (Matthew J Smith)

Sunday 29th November – 14.35 Fairyhouse

On first glance, the successful reappearance of Honeysuckle was the biggest takeaway from her race last week. However, the performance of Ronald Pump in second-place should not be overlooked.

Matthew Smith’s seven-year-old stayed on well to pressure the 4/11 favourite and, had there been an extra furlong, he may have ended Honeysuckle’s unbeaten record.

There was a switch of tactics for Keith Donoghue’s ride, racing closer to the pace rather than being waited with. This certainly helped the gelding, as his experience over longer trips meant he stayed on. Ronald Pump made up over five lengths in the final furlong and made it a much closer finish for Honeysuckle than the market anticipated.

Going forward, I think the hurdler is easily capable of a victory or two before he heads to Cheltenham, with the Stayers’ Hurdle the likely target, a race in which he came second last time.

by Charlie Parker-Turner