Horses To Follow » Paco Boy

Paco Boy

I have to re-consider my opinion of Paco Boy as a miler. Before last Saturday, I was fairly sure that he wouldn’t get the trip, that he would be shown up in the top Group 1 mile races this year as a non-stayer, a seven-furlong specialist, but such was the manner of his win in the Group 2 Bet365 Mile at Sandown on Saturday, you I have had to re-consider.

First of all, it is important not to get carried away with this performance. This contest is probably just about clinging on to Group 2 status and the time was not good, slower than the Class 2 handicap run later in the day. They went slow through the early throes, despite the fact that the front-runner, Kandidate, stays 10 furlongs. The runner-up was Dream Eater, who got beaten in a Class 3 conditions race at Warwick on his previous run, and the third horse was Virtual, a nice progressive individual, but unproven beyond listed class. That said, Paco Boy was most impressive in beating the pair of them. He travelled really sweetly throughout, he had Virtual off the bridle three furlongs out, and he quickened really nicely when Richard Hughes just gave him a slight squeeze, to win by a cosy half-length.

As well as the distance, there were a lot of elements conspiring against Paco Boy. This was his first run since his return from Dubai, he was drawn in stall one, right on the outside, and he was carrying a 6lb penalty, so it was a fair performance to win as he did. The Sandown mile is a stiff mile. The standard time for a mile race at Sandown is 1min 41secs, compared to the standard time for a mile race at Newbury (scene of Paco Boy’s next intended target, the Lockinge Stakes) of 1min 37secs, and at Asot (scene of his subsequent probable target, the Queen Anne Stakes) of 1min 40secs. So, although they go around a tight enough bend at Sandown, it does take a fair bit of getting.

Paco Boy has everything, he has class, he has pace, he can quicken, he is obviously tough, and he has a great temperament. He is now very high profile, however, and there is a chance that, wherever he goes next (probably the Lockinge), his rivals will adopt tactics that will maximise the stamina requirement and therefore minimise Paco Boy’s chances of winning. Also, if it did come up on the soft side for the Lockinge, he would be vulnerable. It is an intriguing prospect, and betting strategy on the day will depend on the ground, the make up of the race, likely race tactics and, crucially, how they bet. There is a chance that they will put Paco Boy in quite short, such is his profile now. That said, he is a hugely talented individual, he has been to Newbury three times and he has won all three times, admittedly over no further than seven furlongs. It will be fascinating to monitor his progress through the season.

25th April 2009