Sharestan one to note in coming months
By Pat Keane
If there was one horse about which to get excited at Leopardstown last Sunday then it was surely John Oxx’s Sharestan.
The four-year-old, unraced as a juvenile, was having only a fourth ever outing and ran the experienced and talented Famous Name to a head.
Sharestan was first seen when winning a modest maiden at the Curragh last June, a contest in which Paul Nicholls’ now hurdler Dodging Bullets, finished fourth, beaten about three lengths.
Then in July, he went off the 5-4 favourite for a decent conditions race at Fairyhouse and that was based purely on reputation, rather than anything the form book was telling us.
Sharestan could only finish third behind Flowers Of Spring and Jessica Harrington’s hurdler, Steps To Freedom, shaping as if the ten furlongs stretched his stamina somewhat.
He was then put away by Oxx, with the conclusion to be drawn that here was a promising horse, but nothing particularly special.
But his two runs so far this season have revealed an altogether better individual and he seems to be going in the right direction - and at speed.
Sharestan began last month by taking the Irish Lincoln at the Curragh. He ran off a mark of 97, carried 9-4 and gave Ansaab 14lbs and a decisive two and three quarter lengths beating.
So well, however, did he handle the soft ground that you had to wonder if cut in the surface would always be a requirement?
In any case the handicapper was suitably impressed and moved his rating up by 11lbs to 108.
At the weights at Leopardstown he still had 3lbs to find with Famous Name, but there were such positive reports regarding his work that I made him the selection.
Sharestan was blatantly caught flat-footed early in the straight and Famous Name got first run on him and by some way.
But the manner in which Oxx’s colt finished out his race was hugely encouraging and he would have nailed Famous Name in another stride or two.
We have to factor in, however, that Famous Name was making his seasonal debut and is entitled to come on plenty for the run.
As well as that there were a couple of modest enough performers who weren’t exactly a million miles behind, so there is no point getting carried away with the bare form.
What we can say, though, is that Sharestan handled the good ground and, in contrast to Fairyhouse last year, now appears to be crying out for a longer trip than the eight furlong at Leopardstown.
Running Famous Name close only tells us that Sharestan is currently a horse with a lot of potential.
Famous Name is a very decent sort in his own right, but has repeatedly been found wanting at the highest level.
What Sharestan needs to do is to take the next step. I have a feeling he just might and the next few months are going to prove mighty interesting and, hopefully, rewarding, if you get my meaning?
This whole Aintree Grand National discussion bores one utterly to tears and, with all sorts of crackpots coming out of the woodwork, there seems little point in entering the debate.
But, that said, cannot resist an observation or two on the race itself.
Firstly, Sunnyhillboy should have won, instead of being beaten a nose, and if you don’t know why then go and watch the finish of the National over and over until it finally dawns.
Secondly, it is quite amazing how far Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry have skyrocketed the way lady riders - at least some of them - are now regarded by the general public and by that I mean seasoned male investors, who would have no truck with females not so long ago.
The notion that Seabass, partnered by a lady rider - in this case Walsh - could go off joint-favourite for a race like the National would have been quite unthinkable in the not too distant past.
Seabass took to the place like dream and, you’d imagine, Ted Walsh will gear him totally at the prize next year. The handicapper, rather than the fences, has to be the biggest worry.
And then there’s Willie Mullins’ On His Own, who fell at Becher’s second time round when, to my eyes, doing half-speed.
Willie can only protect his mark by keeping him away from fences until the weights for next year’s National are announced. He’s a patient man and more than capable of behaving in such a manner!
Were you active getting on Spin Of A Coin a week yesterday morning for Dundalk that night?
Spin Of A Coin was in a four-runner claiming race and was one off two runners for trainer, Eddie Lynam.
Arguably, his main rival was stable companion, Akasaka, and that horse was put in as favourite.
But those who came out to play didn’t want to know about him, only had eyes for Spin Of A Coin.
There was some 9-4 available, but I’d say most business was transacted at odds between 15-8 and 13-8.
Then on Friday afternoon Akasaka was taken out of the contest - coughing - and, of course, a Rule 4 kicked in.
Spin Of A Coin then went off at 4-11 and hardly broke sweat to score by nine and a half lengths.
But those who invested in the morning were on a 4-11 shot at a price better than evens. As Del Boy might say: ‘lovely jubly.’
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