It is the jump boys who take centre stage as racing comes to the forefront during boxing day. As everyone settles down to get over their Christmas festivities, thousands flock to see the racing action that is happening all over the country. Despite not being the main event, Wolverhampton offered a good card on Boxing Day and Mount Tahan delivered a belated Christmas present as he took the feature 1m1f Betway Handicap, swooping with a late run.
Tahan has been one of those talented performers who had his quirks throughout his career. Every season he bags a big win mixed in with some solid big race performances. Unfortunately he has also had a couple of immature traits, like being too keen, that have scuppered him breaking through the 100 handicap mark barrier. This year it has been the stalls that proved a stumbling block with a few missed breaks preventing any wins on the turf. Although a frustrating move that he had learnt there was a silver lining. After racing in the rear for a few runs, Tahan was learning to settle throughout the race therefore seeing out the finish better.
After the flat season finished, Kevin decided that a small break followed by an AW campaign would suit. He headed to Wolverhampton at the end of November to tackle a new trip of 1m1f. Unfortunately he was slowly away again, so he needed to be ridden with patience. Travelling well throughout the contest, Tahan came with a strong, late surge. Just failing to catch the winner Tahan went down by a neck but had shown the trip was no problem and he enjoyed the style of running.
Bouncing following that run, Kevin was immediately into the entry book to find a race for Tahan and the Boxing day feature fitted the bill perfectly. Back to the same track and over the same trip, it was the logical step. Shane Gray had to make the flight back from Ireland as he was set to partner the 5 year old, but it was to prove worth cutting his home visit short.
Only 8 lined up for the contest despite the good prize money but it was a competitive field. Tahan was seen to have a good chance although he would have to back up his last effort. After seeing him finish strongly last time, Shane was told not to force him out of the stalls, aiming to reduce the chance of him missing the break all together. The tactic worked perfectly and the big bay jumped well, just a stride slower than the early pace setters. Although Shane found himself stuck wide, the field soon got going and began to filter in to a more stream line formation. Relaxing, Tahan was positioned towards the rear of the field and travelled smoothly through the early stages.
There was no challenge for the lead so Kyllacky Gala took full advantage and stretched on, gaining a 3 length lead at a steady pace. The field followed 2×2 and there was little to separate the other 7 runners. Shane was happy to sit patiently at the rear although there was always a concern that he would need to race wide at some point. All the runners moved through the first half of the race with ease as the leader continued to cut out a steady gallop.
There was no move from any of the field until late in the contest. As they got past the half mile stage the first injection of pace just lifted the tempo. Still a long way from home, Shane sat still with Tahan easily going with the slight pace increase. The leader still held a comfortable 3 length advantage and having been allowed to dictate throughout, he was going to be the one the rest had to catch. As they bared down on the 3f the leader took them into the home bend and it was at this point that the race suddenly took shape. Shifting quickly through the gears, Kyllachy Gala quickened up the pace and was setting sail for home. The rest of the field had been waiting for this exact move but it still caught them out. Now they needed to get to work to go after the leader but they had been caught on their heels. Shane was the only one who didn’t get any lower in the saddle and looked to be fully confident of throwing down a later challenge. Being pitched at the rear of the field he knew that a challenge around the bend would mean to swing wide off the bend, giving away vital ground. Therefore he waited for a few seconds more.
Straightening up for home and now inside the final couple of furlongs, Kylachy Gala still held sway. The tactics were looking to be spot on as his closest pursuers were struggling to get on terms. Tahan was still in the rear but now Shane decide to press the button. As Tahan began to lengthen he found a couple of his rivals blocking his run, unable to go forward any quicker. Quickly avoiding their heels, Shane switched left to the inside finding a clearer passage. Now he went through the gears and began to go in search of the leader, who was not stopping.
Passing through the field, Tahan was making impressive headway and had eaten into the lead within strides. Hitting the 1f marker and with all the momentum, Mount Tahan was looking like the most likely winner. With every stride he continued to power on and soon pulled alongside the long time leader. Sweeping past he maintained his run and put the race to bed. There was a late challenge from Born To Be Alive, who rallied after being passed by Tahan but it was all in vain. Shane knew they had the race in the bag and was pulling his mount up as they crossed the line with a 1/2 length advantage.
It was an impressive display from Mount Tahan who made up plenty of ground in a short space of time. The most pleasing factor is that Tahan settled really well and then showed a good turn of foot. Mr Rahman has had a good 2017 and this result was a nice way to end the year. He is a big supporter of the yard and hopefully his horses can go from strength to strength next year. Mount Tahan has thrived over this new trip and there is no reason to think that he could be improving despite turning 6 in the new year. There could be some prizes available on the AW before a break and then tackling the 2018 turf season.