Ahead of the new national hunt season you will hear about many horses that appear to be well-handicapped going into the new season. One horse that has proven that on the track recently is Shantou Village, a horse who won nicely on Wednesday night at Worcester in a decent race.
This isn’t his time of year and we are going to see even more from him as the season progresses, but already he has put up two very good performances. The first of those came in the listed summer plate handicap at Market Rasen where he finished third and he built on that to win this week at Worcester.
Going back to 2017 Shantou Village won off a mark of 146. More recently his win at Worcester was off just 139. He will go up in the handicap for that win but will begin the new national hunt season on a mark that is lower than 146. That leaves him well-handicapped despite a rise in the weights.
With this in mind, I think Neil Mulholland will keep hold of him now and target him at some of the bigger races throughout the season because he is going to be handicapped well enough to win one of them. One race that could be in the mind of the trainer is the early season Gold Cup at Cheltenham. This is a track where Shantou Village has won before. He won his only start over fences, and one from three over hurdles at the racecourse.
There are other options and it would be no surprise if his campaign took him to the premier handicaps at around two and a half miles. It takes a very good horse to win one of these and Shantou Village would have to run right up to his best to be in contention. That said, there was a lot to like about his win at Worcester, and after struggling last season he appears to be getting back on track at just the right time.
As we approach the new season many horses will be spoken about as being well-handicapped. However, few will have actually proven they are well-handicapped on the course, something that Shantou Village has done. Don’t be surprised to see him contest the big handicaps throughout the winter and on his day he is more than capable of winning one from a mark in the low 140’s. He can use that to his advantage in the big races that are coming up.
If you are looking for a horse to follow over the new season then Shantou Village showed that he is certainly one to keep on the right side of and he appears to be slowly coming back to his best.