James Boyle’s Horses To Follow – Week Nine
An OK week, mainly thanks to Hopes N Dreams (7/2) winning for this column at the second attempt. She was back at her beloved Hamilton and although I had worries over the 5f trip suiting, she proved it wasn’t a bother at all by showing bright speed before holding on gamely inside the final furlong. What you make of the form is debatable as it was only a 5-runner conditions’ race, but there were some quite useful sorts in opposition and that’s a plus at least. She’ll remain on the HTF list for another while and can win again.
Tropical Beat was the ante-post pick for the Northumberland Plate on Saturday and didn’t run much of a race. He did his party tricky of looking less than enthusiastic when asked for an effort and weakened away in the closing stages. O’Meara will get him to pick up a race sometime, but I’d say my brief support ends now.
Venus De Milo fared a lot better in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh, travelling well throughout and taking up the running in the home straight. Sadly, Thistle Bird was always tanking in behind and had more than enough to win quite easily, so we had to settle for another runner-up with the big race preview. It was a cracking effort from Aidan O’Brien’s filly, however, and she’ll do better back up at 1m 4f in due course.
The other horses to follow who lined up in the week gone by were Barnet Fair, Confessional and Third Dimension. Neither of the first two were disgraced behind a Group horse in a handicap at Newcastle and remain on the list, but the latter didn’t run much of a race at all despite being well backed in the market and has me quite stumped. Something’s stopping him from showing his true worth (ground?), but I’ll persist. I’m adamant that he’s a Group-class performer off a handicappers mark and hopefully that’ll be shown on track soon.
Those remaining in the tracker with entries in the coming week include; Burano, Confessional, Dominate & Running Reef.
Horses To Follow – Week Nine:
Head Space (28th June) –
It’s a bit disconcerting that Head Space isn’t finishing off his races this season like he used to, even when handicapped to the hilt, but there has been enough promise in his last three runs to suggest that the Ruth Carr trained 6-year-old will be winning before long. The assessor is being kind enough at least and the horse’s penultimate 1.75-length fourth behind Line Of Reason at Thirsk looks exceptionally good form when you consider that Paul Midgley’s charge won a £50k h’cap at the Curragh last weekend. As we all know, these sprinters seem to take their turn in winning and Head Space’s should be soon. You can upgrade his recent Doncaster effort as he was too prominently ridden for his liking and the next time he’s held up in a race that pans out to suit, I’d say he’ll go close if the ground is genuinely quick. I’ll be keeping him on side for a while as his mark of 74 is very workable.
Short Squeeze (28th June) –
Progressive doesn’t even begin to describe Short Squeeze last year as Hugo Palmer’s 4-year-old improved from a mark of 74 to 106 in just four outings and although handicapped accordingly nowadays, Listed or lowly Group-class success could be coming his way. He was a no-show when fancied to run a big race in the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot – his seasonal return – but everything went wrong there and it looked best ignored. Indeed, the gelding showed up a lot better on Saturday when a close fifth in the Listed Midsummer Stakes at Windsor and on the back of that performance, I’m happy enough to add him to the HTF list as well. He travelled really powerfully (admittedly, was too keen) back on a turning track but is the sort who needs to be chasing a proper race-pace and the visual impression would suggest that they went slow enough. Another possibility is that Palmer doesn’t have his charge fully wound-up yet and I expect to see improvement forthcoming in his next outing. There’s loads of ability in this fellow’s locker and it won’t take long to be on show again.
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