Ashforth’s Angles: Who can escape the Pulled Up Club

Hereford: hosts two of the three members

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Ashforth's Angles: Three horses looking to escape the Pulled Up Club
By David Ashforth 6:00PM 10 JAN 2017

WHAT have Pursuit Of Happiness, Flembrandt and Kublai got in common? You've no idea, have you? Admittedly, it is a tricky one. All three qualify for the "Pulled Up Club," membership of which requires that a horse has been pulled up in at least three of its last four runs.

There's a certain (granted, rather small) fascination about seeing what happens next. Will a member of the Pulled Up Club continue to be pulled up, resort to another means of failing to complete the course or show that they are not as bad as the letters before their name imply?

Pulled up might mean all sorts of things – unfit, unable to breathe, wrong in the legs, liver, brain, unsuited by the going, the track, the rider or the time of year. Or it might just mean that the horse is what professionals like to avoid calling "hopeless."

Outside the privacy of their own home trainers rarely describe a horse as "hopeless." A horse has often "had his problems," which makes it sound as if they may be of a domestic nature, possibly involving the breakdown of a long term relationship or an unfortunate episode with drugs.

The word "hopeless" is also rarely to be heard during post-race post-mortems. An infinite array of reasons are marshalled to explain why the horse ran, if not badly then disappointingly. The reason is never that the horse is "hopeless." Hopeless brutally suggests that there is a lack of hope and it is hope that sustains the sport; hope in the face of adversity.

The optimistically named Pursuitofhappiness (1.20 Hereford) has form letters reading P3PPP-P. The nine-year-old is at least predictable, the 3 representing a last of three finishers, beaten over 78 lengths. Bought in 2013 for £24,000 after winning an Irish point-to-point, Pursuitofhappiness has shown no sign of finding happiness for owner Brian Derrick or trainer Neil Mulholland. Having pulled up on his last three runs over fences, Pursuitofhappiness is switched back to hurdles. The last time he ran over them, he was pulled up. At least, in Mulholland, he's got a good trainer. Even so…

Flembrandt (3.50 Hereford) "boasts" form reading PPP4-P. In his case the Ps refer to point-to-points. This is the seven-year-old's first race under rules since being bought for £2,600 last April. Perhaps Steve Flook's mare will improve.

At Taunton (2.40) Kublai offers the most hope, having won twice over hurdles for Philip Hobbs before being introduced to fences at Market Rasen last summer. Kublia didn't seem to like the idea and was pulled up. By the time he faced them again, at Fontwell in November, he had been sold to West Buckland Bloodstock for £8,000 and sent to trainer Alexandra Dunn.

Kublai was pulled up again and, returned to hurdles at Bangor, was pulled up yet again.

Perhaps the soft ground didn't suit him. We have to hope that the seven-year-old had a good Christmas, made suitable New Year resolutions and will do better next time, which is now.

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