Horses To Follow » Warringah


Even though he was beaten, Warringah emerged from the one-mile-six-furlong listed race at York on Saturday with immense credit, coming out second best in a three-way-photo. At his best when he is able to lead, it wasn’t certain beforehand that he would get his own way up front with fellow front-runners, the Mark Johnston pair Drill Sergeant and Quai D’Orsay, also in the line-up, but there were no doubts after the gates opened. Ryan Moore was committed to leading. He actually rode Warringah along for a few strides to make sure he bagged the lead and the rail, and to dissuade his rivals from taking him on. From there until 100 yards from the winning line, it pretty much went to plan. Drill Sergeant sat in second place and, while he didn’t really challenge for the lead, he probably pushed Warringah on a little.

As a result, the pace was fast for the distance, the field was fairly well stretched out and the two horses who joined him in the three-way photo, Hits Only Vic and Magicalmysterytour, just had to be encouraged along a little in the early stages towards the rear. Warringah soon had Drill Sergeant’s measure early in the home straight, then he saw off Friston Forest and Quai D’Orsay, but Magicalmysterytour and Hits Only Vic, two proven stayers, gradually reeled him closer. Still two lengths clear passing the two furlong pole and a length up a furlong out, he still had a half a length in hand with 25 yards to go, but he had given his all, and he went down by the bob of a head to Hits Only Vic on the line.

Warringah is now a nicely progressive stayer of Michael Stoute’s. A well-fancied outsider for the St Leger last year after winning a handicap at Newbury in June, despite the fact that Stoute also had Doctor Fremantle and Conduit in the Leger, he ran no race at Doncaster. However, after disappointing also in a heritage handicap at York on his debut this season, he ran out a really impressive winner of a handicap at Windsor off a mark of 91, beating Magicalmysterytour, from whom he was receiving 6lb, by six lengths. He only had a nose to spare over that rival on Saturday, but he was up 10lb to a mark of 101 and he was giving that rival 5lb.

The handicapper has given Warringah another 4lb for this performance, but he is progressive enough to take that kind of rise in his stride. He showed really good battling qualities to see off challenger after challenger here, setting fast fractions, he was unfortunate to be done by a sucker punch from a thorough stayer after he had led for all but 25 yards of the mile-and-six contest, and he should progress again for this. He could be one for the Ebor. He is one of just three horses that Stoute has entered in the race (the lightly-raced three-year-old Saptapadi the most fashionable of the three by far) and, as a big bonus, because that race is an early closer, he would get to race there off his old mark of 101. Three of the last 10 winners raced off exactly that mark, and five of the last 10 raced off a mark of between 99 and 102. York suits Warringah’s aggressive style of running, and he is one for the Ebor shortlist already. Best odds of 16/1 with Stan James are interesting.

11th July 2009