Horses To Follow » Night Crescendo

Night Crescendo

Night Crescendo ran a really promising race on his seasonal debut in the heritage handicap that opened proceedings at Newmarket on Sunday. Drawn on the inside in stall 16, Jim Crowley was happy to allow the Diesis gelding jump slowly enough from the gate and settle in just behind the leaders. He got shuffled back a little then against the rail behind a pace that really wasn’t that quick, as a lot of horses visibly wanted to go faster than they were going. Crowley angled towards the middle of the track a half a mile out, at which point he travelled as easily as any of his rivals. He picked up under hands and heels two and a half furlongs out, without really having that much racing room to deliver a challenge, and he ran on nicely all the way to the line to finish fifth, no more than three lengths behind the winner Hatton Flight. He was never really in with a chance of winning the race, but this was a really encouraging run on his seasonal debut, and Crowley wasn’t hard on him when it was apparent that he couldn’t win. The jockey reported to the stewards afterwards that he was denied a clear run.

It would be surprising if trainer Amanda Perrett did not have a top handicap in mind now for Night Crescendo. He won two really decent handicaps over a mile and a half at Ascot last autumn when he was fitted with cheekpieces, and it was notable that the cheekpieces were absent at Newmarket on Sunday. Also, he was ridden prominently, just behind the pace, in both of those races, more prominently than he was ridden on Sunday. You have to forgive him his final two runs last season, but the ground was very soft in the November Handicap at Doncaster on his penultimate run, and his last run at Kempton, when he finished second last, was at the end of November, at the end of a long season, it was too bad to be true and you can easily forgive him that as well.

The Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot looks like an ideal target now. He could only finish eighth in the race last year, but he never got any kind of run through the race, he was held up well out the back off a slow pace, he travelled keenly, then he tried to make his ground very wide into the home straight. Also, that run was before they started fitting the cheekpieces, which seem to have made a difference, and before he started re-capturing his best form at the end of last season. With the exception of that run in last year’s Duke of Edinburgh, Night Crescendo is unbeaten in three starts at Ascot. Three of his four wins on turf, from 20 starts, have been gained at the Berkshire track. His current rating of 94 is fair, given that he was given a rating of 98 after he finished third behind Malt Or Mash in the 2007 November Handicap. The re-fitting of cheekpieces should bring about even further improvement, and he could be worth backing wherever he runs next if they are back on. Ideally, it will be at Ascot.

© The Irish Field, 9th May 2009