Horses To Follow » Duncan


Duncan did well to finish second to Harbinger in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday. Last through the early stages of the race and a little keen, William Buick had to sit and suffer all the way around the home turn as Harbinger went for home. Even after straightening up, he got caught in traffic early in the home straight. He moved inside Wajir two furlongs out, at which stage he was about five lengths behind Harbinger, who was in full flight and in front, but he picked up impressively, cut through his field and got out after Harbinger. Of course, he was never going to catch Michael Stoute’s horse, but he showed a fine turn of foot to pass his other rivals, as good a turn of foot as Harbinger showed, and he stayed on all the way to the line, closing the gap to three and a half lengths and pulling six lengths clear of the remainder.

All the talk after the Hardwicke was of Harbinger, and rightly so, he is potentially a huge talent, but the quality of Duncan’s run has gone under the radar as a result, and he may not be as far behind Harbinger as general perception suggests. He proved here that his run behind Barshiba over this course and distance on his previous run, when he lost a shoe, was all wrong, and he is almost certainly an improved performer now as a five-year-old. He is still relatively lightly-raced, and it is significant that he put up the highest Racing Post Rating of his career to date here. He doesn’t win as often as he should and, somewhat surprisingly, he has never won beyond listed level, but a Pattern race win is well within his capabilities. The Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting is the obvious race for him now. It is a bit of a worry in the context of that race that he finished last of nine runners in the race last year when he was sent off the 2/1 favourite after he travelled too keenly through the early stages, and that he is now winless in four attempts at Newmarket’s two courses, but he was beaten just a short head on the July Course on his racecourse debut and he would be a leading player in the Princess of Wales’s if he took his chance in it as long as he settled through the early part of the race.

19th June 2010

© The Irish Field, 26th June 2010