If you’re reading this Blog post, then it is probably fair to say that Champions Day at Ascot has been and gone and we can accept that the Flat season in the UK is effectively complete. It’s National Hunt time. Chepstow last week gave us a little taste of what is still to come, but unfortunately the rain denied us the opportunity to see the very exciting Liari make his debut for Paul Nicholls. There shouldn’t be too many issue at Kempton Park on Sunday, despite the recent rain that has fallen in London and so all being well we will get to see one of the more interesting French recruits to have arrived in the UK this summer, Mojo Ego.
Bought by Highclere Racing, he has joined Harry Derham, and I am delighted to see that he has been declared to make his British debut in the Juvenile hurdle that opens the Kempton jumps card on Sunday. Will he win this race? I have absolutely no idea. There is a little bit of French form from the likes of Kundaline (who disappointed me at Ludlow last week), Soigneux Belle and Kauto Kawai, but we have 11 runners going to post and many of those have come from the Flat in the UK, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to offer an opinion on the strength of their form. I’ll just watch for now, but I do think there is a case to be made for Mojo Ego to be considered an above average recruit for Juvenile hurdles.
Mojo Ego is a son of Intello, who has had a mixed return as a Sire over hurdles, with 8 winners from 27 runners over obstacles in the UK and Ireland to add to a few winners over jumps in France. His progeny are relatively versatile in going terms, which has been reflected in the form that Mojo Ego showed on the Flat in France, so that bodes well. His Dam, Never Green, was a Listed winner on the Flat for the Wertheimer’s and she has had a very successful career as a Broodmare, with 9 individual winning progeny so far. Her Dam, Brooklyn’s Dance, was a Group 3 winner who reached a peak rating of 55-kilos (121) on the level. She has also had a very successful broodmare career, most notably with the 2012 Arc de Triomphe winner Solemia. This is a high class family line and on his pedigree, Mojo Ego stands out when he is compared to many of the other recruits, we have seen heading over hurdles so far.
He made his debut for Jean-Claude Rouget in June 2022, winning a La Teste maiden by a length on good ground despite being slowly away from the stalls. His Flat form peaked when he finished a 5-length fifth behind Victoria Road in the Group 3 Prix de Conde, after which the French handicapper gave him a rating of 44-kilos (97). That was fair and although he perhaps didn’t go on from there in 3 subsequent runs for the Rouget team, he was picked up by David Satalia after finishing 5th in a Claimer at Cagnes-Sur-Mer back in January and switched to hurdles.
He made his hurdles debut at Bordeaux in May, when he finished 4th behind Sealor. I don’t want to describe him as “green” because that would be unfair, but he was pulling for his head behind the early leaders, probably because the race was run at a crawl on the first circuit, and they were going too slowly for him compared to the Flat pace he was used to. The time figures, particularly when comparing the final circuit time to the other hurdle races on the card, show that the race became a sprint from the back of the 3rd last and he had probably blown his chance by then after pulling for his head in the early stages. He kept on for fourth place and certainly learned a lot for the experience as he improved significantly to finish 2nd on his next start at Strasbourg. This piece of form is what makes him so interesting. He was beaten 2-lengths by Shamalra, who has won again since and now has a rating of 63-kilos (126) for Lageneste and Macaire, whilst the 3rd placed Drole de Vert, who was 5-lengths behind Mojo Ego, has won twice since and has a rating of 62-kilos (124). Allowing for the weights on the day, it is fair to say that Mojo Ego easily ran to a mark of 124 in that race. If he can transfer that level of form to the UK, he must surely be capable of winning Juvenile hurdle races, especially in the earlier part of the season before the Irish arrive.
As you can probably tell, I really like him. I think he is the most exciting French recruit we have seen so far this season. He has plenty of race experience, he has run to a good standard on the Flat, he has already run over hurdles, and he has joined an up and coming trainer who had a brilliant season last time around, there is a lot to like and I am really looking forwards to his debut at Kempton on Sunday.