Saturday, February 19, 2011

She is all heart

Ethics Girl (seen in the first picture cantering to post under Robert Havlin) is such a trouper. She didn't win at Wolverhampton last night, but she ran yet another hugely creditable race, demonstrating once more that, as the analysis of the race says in today's Racing Post, "she is all heart". One can't be down-hearted when one comes home from a race with the horse in good shape and having run with great credit, but even so the race was actually slightly frustrating from our point of view. It was an odd race as one of the runners, Far From Old, took charge of the rider and shot into a clear lead, which he held for two thirds of the race. As he'd been heavily backed, he had to be regarded as a serious contender, which made things awkward for the remaining jockeys. He did, of course, weaken suddenly as the field turned out of the back straight, but the upshot was that Ethics Girl hit the front too soon and, instead of tracking her main danger Carter (who is seen on her inside halfway through the race, with eventual runner-up Parhelion just in front of the pair of them) into the straight, she found herself leading into the straight with Carter following her through. She would have been long odds-on in the in-running market on the home turn, but unsurprisingly (to those who know her) she was overhauled by Carter at the furlong pole, and even lost second (as the third photograph shows) in the dying strides to Parhelion, from whom she had taken the lead with ease at the 450m. She was running off her highest rating ever, finished just behind horses with whom she had looked very closely matched on the book (she and Carter had gone off the 3/1 joint favourites, with Parhelion at 7/2) and still finished TWENTY FIVE LENGTHS clear of the fourth, so really we can't feel too hard done by - but still one came away just feeling that maybe 'what if?'

One trainer who came home with no ifs or buts was our friend Toby Coles, whose charge Cotton King (pictured going to post under Ian Mongan) had won the previous race, over the same 14-furlong course but for horses in a lower ratings band. Toby had had the option of running Cotton King in that race with a high weight or in our race with a lower weight, and he surely pulled the right rein in opting for the weaker race: the horse's SP of 10/11 showed that he was very well placed in that heat, whereas he would have been deemed to be less of a good thing in our race. However, it's now fair to say that he'd have won either with ease, having scooted home by ten lengths in a time almost exactly a second quicker than that posted by Carter. I was so pleased by Cotton King's victory as it's grand that he's doing so well (and not only because he's giving yet another boost to Rhythm Stick's form, being one of several horses to have finished behind Rhythm Stick and then gone on to win next time): Toby is a very skillful and conscientious horseman who works all hours God gives, so he really deserves to make a success of his training career, and Cotton King (seen well clear of his rivals inside the final furlong, and then returning to the winner's enclosure) is shaping as a horse to help him along the road to success. I was bold enough to suggest to Toby while Cotton King was still a maiden that he could end up winning a Cesarewitch with him, and I'm happy to stick with that verdict after the horse's win (his third) last night. And if the horse does go on to even greater glory, he will be paying a mighty tribute to the skill both of his trainer and of his regular rider Sammy, as he is far from easy. The horse's previous connections gave up with him and cut their losses at a very early stage, but Toby and Sammy look to be doing just fine with him now.

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