Things We Learned » Eagle soars

Eagle soars

The thing about going away for a week or two and taking a break from it all (one of the pre-agreed pre-conditions attached to going away, by the way) is that you miss things. You miss winners that you convince yourself you would have backed (you could have written a 1,400-word essay on the David Livingston/Majestic Jasmine double), you miss losers that you convince yourself you wouldn’t have backed (of course you would have backed Racy instead of Ahtoug), and you miss performances.

Free Eagle was one of those performances.

From a cocoon somewhere ‘away from it all’ (see above) in early August, when you read a headline that says that something is 12/1 favourite for the Derby, your first thought (no kiddin’) it that it must be the Greyhound Derby.

It is probable that time will tell that the maiden that Free Eagle won on that Thursday evening at Leopardstown was a really good one. The three horses who chased him home were all fellow debutants, from two of the ‘right’ yards, and runner-up Orchestra has already begun the process of solidifying the form of the race by dancing in in a maiden at Tipperary on Thursday evening.

Also, the time of the race was good for debutants, the second fastest comparative time on the evening, and just over a second slower than the time that Group 1 winner Gordon Lord Byron clocked in winning the Group 3 Desmond Stakes, all out, over the same course and distance a half an hour later.

There are two main elements that mark Free Eagle down as a real live Derby candidate at this development stage if his career when evidence is scant. First, there was the visual impression of his performance. Sometimes you just have to trust your eyes, watch the willing manner in which a horse goes clear, gobbles up the ground, and write the horse down in your notebook before you even begin to think about the opposition or the figures.

Second, there was the reaction of his connections afterwards. Neither Dermot Weld nor Pat Smullen are known disciples of hyperbole, so when the two of them speak independently as reverently as they did about this fellow, you have to accept that things could get very serious indeed.

Rasmeyaa back

Speaking of Dermot Weld, it was great to see his three-year-old filly Rasmeyaa return to the racetrack with such an encouraging run to finish third behind Fiesolana and Sea Siren in the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary on Thursday.

Disappointing in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket in early May on her seasonal debut, it has obviously taken time to get Sheikh Hamdam Al Maktoum’s filly back, but her run on Thursday suggested that she retains all of the potential that saw her sent off the 9/1 joint-fourth favourite for the Guineas, the same price as the winner Sky Lantern.

She should progress from Thursday’s run, she should do well stepped back up to a mile, and she could get 10 furlongs later in the season if she needs to. There is a good programme of races for high-class fillies like her between now and the end of term, and she could be well worth watching with interest.

Jack on the up

Saxo Jack took another step forward from his no-nonsense maiden win at Leopardstown last month when he landed the Premium Handicap at Dundalk on Sunday.

A little keen down the back straight, the Ger Lyons-trained gelding was obviously travelling best at the top of the home straight just behind the leaders, and there was a lot to like about the manner in which he pushed through the gap that Gary Carroll managed to engineer for him two furlongs out. Striking the front outside the furlong pole, he still showed signs of greenness once there, but he ran on gamely once Steps To Freedom got close to him on the far side, and there was no repeat of the tail-swishing response to the whip that we saw at Leopardstown.

Sean Jones’ horse was having just his fourth ever run on Sunday. He has progressed markedly since he was a beaten favourite at The Curragh on Derby weekend, and there is every reason to expect that he can improve again.

He probably won on Sunday with a fair bit more in hand than the winning margin, and he should be still worth following for a while now. He has performed well now on easy ground, on fast ground and on Polytrack, he is a pacey horse who stays well and, in the immediate term, he will be of interest if he takes up his entry in the 11-furlong Premier Handicap at Killarney on Thursday.

Leger focus

Foundry ran a massive race to finish second to Telescope in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York on Wednesday, and he is surely a live contender for the St Leger now.

The only runner out of eight original entries that Aidan O’Brien had in the race, the son of Galileo was having his first run since he won his maiden on his racecourse debut at Leopardstown last November, and there was a lot to like about the manner in which he stuck to his task to get to within a length and a quarter of the winner.

He stayed the 12-furlong trip well, and there is every reason to expect that he will get the Leger trip. He is a son of Galileo and, while his dam was a Grade 1 winner in America over a mile, she is from the family of stayer Bien Bien. Best odds of 14/1 for the Leger – crucially, with a run – with the sponsors Ladbrokes look big.

Going Genzy

The shortlist for this afternoon’s Ebor at York contravenes the Trade Descriptions Act for Shortlist, and includes Sheikhzayedroad, Tiger Cliff, Sun Central, Hanoverian Baron and Ted Veale. However, top of the list is Genzy.

Ian Williams’ horse’s run in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last Saturday built on his unlucky second behind Bishop Roko at Ascot’s King George meeting, and bubbled over with promise. The handicapper raised him 6lb for that run, but, because the Ebor is obviously an early-closing race, and because he didn’t win on Saturday, he gets to compete off his old mark, his pre-penultimate-run mark of 98, so he is effectively 8lb well-in today. He is, in theory, the best-handicapped horse in the race by far.

A good horse in France for Jonathan Pease – he was beaten just a head by Meandre in a listed race on Meandre’s last run before he won the Grand Prix de Paris – the son of Gentlewave should be even better stepped up another furlong in trip today on Saturday’s evidence. His wide draw is not the negative these days in the Ebor that it used to be, Ian Williams’ horses are in good form – he has had three winners from his last seven runners – and Richard Kingscote is riding with maximum confidence these days. (Watch his ride on Brown Panther in the Goodwood Cup again if you have any doubts about that one.)

Genzy looks well over-priced at 25/1.

© The Irish Field, 24th August 2013