Horses To Follow » Charm School

Charm School

Charm School ran an eye-catching race when fifth in the Investec Challenge, the 10-furlong heritage handicap, at Epsom on Friday. Settled in last place by Jimmy Fortune off a slow pace, he was quite keen when he moved to the outside on the descent around Tattenham Corner, obviously wanting to go faster, but Fortune held onto him. He didn’t handle the descent at all, he skewed off the bend, went quite wide and gave away an amount of ground. By the time they straightened up, he was still stone last, two lengths off the second last horse in an otherwise tight field, tight because they had gone such a slow gallop early on.

From there, Charm School faced a near impossible task, and even then, his rider wasn’t that hard on him until they reached the two-furlong pole, by which stage he was at least three lengths off the pack. He didn’t produce an electric turn of foot from there, but he did pick up nicely into an increasing pace, under just hands and heels. Two smacks around a furlong out when the cause was lost encouraged the horse more, and he finished well to take fifth place, less than four lengths behind the winner, Seeking The Buck.

This was Charm School’s first attempt at 10 furlongs, so it made sense that he be ridden with restraint. He did seem to see the trip out well, so that opens up options for John Gosden now. He was a nicely progressive horse at the end of last season, and was well fancied for the Lincoln, which was won by his even better-fancied stable companion Expresso Star, but he disappointed a little in that, running on well again at the end when it was all too late, on ground that was probably too fast for him. He obviously has issues – he didn’t respond at all well to the fitting of blinkers for the first time at Yarmouth at the end of April on his penultimate run, and they were discarded at Epsom – but he also has talent.

He has now dropped down to a mark of 91, and you have to think that that significantly under-estimates his ability. He is entered in the John Smith’s Cup at York in mid-July, and he could be one for that if the ground happened to come up soft. However, it is a long way off in the context of this season, but the race for Charm School now is the Cambridgeshire in early October. That race is run over nine furlongs, which should be ideal, and is usually run on easy ground. Furthermore, Gosden has won the last two renewals of the race. You will end up in the poor house following horses who have ‘dropped back down’ to winning marks, but Charm School could be an exception. It should be worthwhile keeping a close eye on him now wherever he goes next, ideally on easy ground.

5th June 2009