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Horses for 2024 - Kentucky Wood

Trained by Francois Nicolle, Kentucky Wood is a 3-year-old son of Balko is the only National Hunt horse to make this list and although I do have some strong evidence to make a case for him being a top-class performer, there is still a slight leaning to this being a hunch of mine. In the main, that is because his 2 best performances have come on ground that was officially described as Heavy, with readings of 4,6 and 5,0 on the penetrometer at Auteuil. To balance the argument, I should also add that he ran perfectly respectably on better ground earlier in the autumn, finishing behind La Spezia on debut at Compiegne in September and then a narrowly beaten 4th behind Kalibre at Auteuil a month later. It is also highly plausible that the benefit of the experience gained from those 2 starts gave him the development he needed to subsequently improve. However, his breeding and his action would lead me to think that he may require some cut in ground to be seen at his best, but the good news is that with the way the track is maintained at Auteuil, he should get plenty of opportunities to run on that ground in 2024.


The first of his 2 victories came when he beat Tisko du Champ by 18-lengths on the 24th of October. He dominated that race and once he hit the front as they rounded the final bend he simply galloped on as the others were stopping. The final circuit time of 2:46.02 compares very well with the older horses who won on the same card (Fortunes Melody 2:45.37 and Jasmin de Corton 2:47.53) and his closing splits from the 3rd last to the line saw him match his elders too. Despite this performance, he was still sent off at an SP of 5.4 for his final start in the Listed Prix Chalet on 26th November, but that proved no barrier and he readily dispatched Kandy Park to win by 3-lengths. The time figure was very good again with his final circuit was just 1-second slower than Losange Bleu, who won the 4YO Grade 1 hurdle on the same day. As I said at the start, both of these victories were run on bottomless ground, but he was so dominant on both occasions that I think it will be very hard to oppose him next season if he gets the same conditions to race on.


His half-brother, Imac Wood, has won over fences for Deborah Cole in the UK and so there is every chance that he may be sent over the larger obstacles as a 4-year-old, but either way I think it is a matter of time before he wins in Graded company, especially on soft ground.

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Excellent work

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