Horses To Follow » Amerigo


Amerigo’s performance in the Chester Cup last Wednesday from a difficult draw was most encouraging. Race position at Chester is crucial, regardless of the distance of the race, a point that was hammered home again and again last week, so even over the extended two and a quarter miles of the Chester Cup, it was important not to be too far off the pace. It was always going to be difficult for Johnny Murtagh to gain a good early position from his draw in stall 16, two from the outside, and his cause wasn’t helped when they missed the kick a little and didn’t have the early pace to rush up past horses through the first couple of furlongs. Murtagh accepted the inevitable, and settled the son of Daylami right back in the field, in the last four.

When you have to do that at Chester, your destiny is largely taken out of your own hands. It is difficult to pass horses at Chester with all its turns, without forsaking a race-losing amount of ground. You are a slave to the pace of the race and the way that it develops and, as it turned out, neither suited Amerigo. The pace was slow, which was never going to favour those held up out the back. He did make some ground before the home turn, but was immediately under pressure to do so around the outside, and he stayed on really well from a hopeless position up the home straight, but he was never really going to win the race. He actually did really well to finish fifth in the end. Of the horses who filled the first seven places, only one of them was held up out the back – Amerigo.

Michael Jarvis’s gelding remains a really interesting prospect for these long distance races. He finished second to Patkai in the Group 3 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last season on what turned out to be his last run on the flat before last Wednesday. He never looked likely to beat Patkai that day, but that horse is now favourite for the Ascot Gold Cup, so there was no disgrace in chasing him home. After that, Amerigo was bought to go jumping for Jonjo O’Neill, and he was well touted for the Triumph Hurdle before his debut over hurdles at Cheltenham last October, when he finished a disappointing ninth behind Simarian. That proved to be his only run over hurdles, and he was sent back to Michael Jarvis, who trained him last season, for the start of this season to be trained as a stayer on the flat this term. He was raised 2lb for his performance at Chester, but that leaves him on a rating of just 100, which could still seriously under-estimate his ability. All of his form is on fast ground, and he should be worth following wherever he goes next.

6th May 2009