Seeing Kevin send a Novice to Musselburgh is not an unusual sight, except for the age and trip. Normally it is a 2 year old not a 4 year old hurdler but there is a chestnut who is starting to take the eye over the obstacles. Beyond The Clouds maintained his perfect start to his hurdling career when easily taking the 1m7f Alastair Montgomery Trust Novices Hurdle.
Having made a winning return in September, taking a bumper with ease, Kevin then decided to start him in his hurdling career on his next start. Having shown plenty of ability on his bumper performances, he had excelled when schooled. Kevin was looking towards the future so he knew that Clouds must learn quickly and so Kelso was chosen for his first run due its sharp and quick nature. This would give Clouds the challenge of jumping at speed with little time to think, something that is important if he was to run in some higher grade races. Obviously he had to make his debut first and it was an impressive win. Jumping well he moved powerfully through the race before repelling a challenge and winning with a bit in hand. The form of that run worked out well with the 2nd and 5th winning on their next start.
Kevin decided to keep him north of the border for his next run and Clouds lined up against 13 rivals at Musselburgh. Brian Hughes, the go to man for Kevin with jumpers, was in the plate again, the only jockey to partner the 4 year old. There was a 2 time winner in the field, Golden Jeffrey and a decent flat performer in Wotabreeze in the line up but the punters felt Clouds was a sure thing and sent him off 2/5 fav. Obviously there is a few things that can go wrong when tackling hurdles but with the second favourite having to concede weight thanks to his double penalty, everyone felt it was too tall an order against Clouds.
Jumping off Brian settled Clouds just behind the leaders who set a decent gallop. There was not worries over the first couple of hurdles as he took them with the minimum of fuss and in his usual sharp, economical style. Brian took the shortest route round and with a few in front of him the third quickly came upon them. Clouds made his first jumping mistake as it just caught him out and he hit the top of it. It was a eye opener for Clouds but Brian got him gathered up and back into his stride. He hadn’t lost his position but it would be interesting to see how he would react following his first ever mistake/scare.
Favourite backers needn’t have worried as Clouds was straight back to himself come the fourth. From there he travelled strongly and was foot perfect again at the fifth. The gallop was suiting him and he had his biggest rival in his eye line throughout the contest. Golden Jeffrey was jumping just as well so Clouds had to make sure he was on his game. He was and apart from the one mistake he was jumping brilliantly and each time getting quicker over and away from the obstacles.
They took the fourth from home at the end of the back straight and it was the two favourites who moved through to start taking control. Clouds was still cantering away under Brian as they swung around the home bend and this pressure began to show on Golden Jeffrey. Straightening up for home Clouds had moved through to challenge 3 out. He was perfect at it and took the lead with ease, causing his rival to get to work. There was nothing coming from out of the pack and it seemed as though Clouds now had the race at his mercy.
Brian was motionless on board and as they came to 2 out he sat quietly. Clouds was having a look around but hit the hurdle on his stride. He took it that well he almost overjumped but now he had a few length lead which allowed Brian a quick look between the legs. What he saw must have been pleasing as there was danger from his rivals. The final hurdle was the only thing that could now stop the chestnut but he popped over and that was it. He won in a canter, stretching away to an 8 length victory.
Beyond The Clouds was very impressive. apart form the one mistake he was foot perfect and showed he could jump at speed and this time with horses in front of him, obstructing his view at times. It was clear that he was a class above his rivals and will now need a step up in class. Graded or Listed races may be next but it will all depend on the ground and what fits into his racing plan best. He really does look a smart prospect and one of the festivals may well be on the cards in the future.