Horses To Follow » Again


No prizes for originality here, but Again, the winner of the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh on Sunday, is probably a really high class filly, probably a fair degree better even than the bare form of her performance in landing the Classic. There is little doubt that the place to be in the race was hard up against the far rail, or, failing that, as close to the far rail as you could get. Again’s stable companion, Always Be True, wheeled wide at the elbow into the centre of the track, and a number of fillies followed her, including the winner. It was obviously an intentional ploy, and it can often be the case at The Curragh on soft ground that you are better off coming down the centre, but whatever way the ground was on Sunday, whatever way it dried out in the sunshine from the rain-battering that it had endured over the course of the previous five days, and the way that the race developed, it was probably a disadvantage to be in the centre. If you look at the head-on view of the finish of the Guineas, you can see that they finished in almost perfect diagonal formation, from the far rail out. The only flaw was that the winner was one off the rail.

Even that doesn’t tell the full story. Johnny Murtagh began niggling Again fully four furlongs from home. At that point, Murtagh obviously realised that the race was going to develop on the far side, and he began manoeuvring his filly over in that direction, but at that stage he was about five lengths off the pace and coming under pressure, while Declan McDonogh was almost motionless on Lahaleeb. At the two-furlong pole, Again moved quite sharply to her right and looked to be floundering, but once she had something to chase, she showed a really willing attitude, and gradually wore down Lahaleeb to get up and score by a half a length, ears pricked. Remarkably, she probably had more left to give.

As well as racing on what was probably a disadvantageous part of the track, Again also had to overcome the fact that this was her seasonal debut. She was primed to run in the Guineas at Newmarket, but she was scratched because of the fast ground, and it was a fine training performance by David Wachman to get her ready to win the Irish version three weeks later. Sunday was a day when fitness was at a premium, and this was especially the case in the Guineas, when they went fast from early. You could have been watching the finish of a three-mile chase, not the finish of a one-mile Classic, so strung out was the field through the final furlong. Runner-up Lahaleeb, another highly talented filly on easy ground, had run twice already this season, the third filly Oh Goodness Me had also run twice, and the trio finished well clear.

It will be interesting to see where Wachman goes with Again now. She obviously doesn’t want really fast ground, but she probably doesn’t need it to be as soft as it was at The Curragh on Sunday. Five of her six runs have now been on easy ground, but she did win her maiden last July on fast ground, and she really had no chance from her draw in stall 17 in the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp last October. She is out of a half-sister to Montjeu who has already produced a winner over 10 furlongs, and her trainer seems to think that she should get a mile and a half okay. As such, she is a really interesting Oaks candidate now. They water the ground well at Epsom these days, especially before Oaks day in order to ensure that it doesn’t ride too fast for the Derby the following day, and Again would be of real interest if she was allowed take her chance at Epsom.

24th May 2009