There are certain horses that really catch the eye, and one that caught mine a couple of years ago was Nicanor, who saw off the mighty Denman at Cheltenham in imperious fashion. Harry Findlay had taken the box next to ours that day, and I know him pretty well – it wasn’t his best day and I don’t think he returned to the box after the race, but he’s had plenty to celebrate recently. To my eye Nicanor is an athletic horse with style and it was a blow when he did a tendon at the beginning of the next season. He finally returns to the track today at Leopardstown and his connections will have their fingers crossed – I’ve got no reason to back him but I’ll be watching with interest and hopefully we’ll see him make his chasing bow soon.
It isn’t always necessary to look the part to be a winner. You’d think a horse with a name like Lightning Strike would be a real speedster, but he is anything but – he is a dour stayer with a slightly laboured and unattractive action. Rodger and I bid for LS in the HIT a year ago, but the bidding got high and he went for £200k – the buyers apparently cheered as if they had just won the lottery. He is the right type to go hurdling but lacks the speed to make the grade over 2 miles – 2m5f today in soft ground is ideal. On flat form there isn’t much between him and Elusive Dream, but the conditions favour him and he may be improving. He’s a reliable character and he’ll be carrying my money today in the 2:40 at Newbury.
At the other end of the class scale Shepherd’s Warning runs for me tonight, and she should run a good race. Nicky thinks she’s as well or better than last time, and since she’s game and is a straightforward ride she is a very fair favourite. She may not get it all her own way and she could go off quite short – she’s currently around 7-4. Worth a bet if the price holds up.