Horses To Follow » High Heeled

High Heeled

I’d say that this year’s renewal of the Oaks was a strong one. The winning time was impressive, more than a second and a half faster than the time clocked by the older colts in the Coronation Cup run over the same course and distance an earlier in the day. However, the leaders went too fast in the early stages of the Oaks. Jamie Spencer said after dismounting from the winner Sariska that he had wanted to be a lot handier than he was, but that they just went too fast and his filly couldn’t keep up. The three fillies who disputed the early running, the three who took each other on for the early lead, Oh Goodness Me, Perfect Truth and Phillipina, filled three of the last five places in the end, which was hardly surprising. Oh Goodness Me won the early battle for the lead, but it was irrelevant. All three had expended too much energy and you can put a line through this performance for the three of them.

To put the early pace into context, in the Coronation Cup they reached the path at the top of hill, before the descent to Tattenham Corner, in exactly a minute. In the Oaks, according to my crude timings, they reached the same path in 55 seconds. That is a colossal difference in the space of about five furlongs. In the Coronation Cup, they reached the path at the entrance to the home straight in 1min 58secs, in the Oaks they reached it in 1min 53secs, still a difference of five seconds, so there was no let-up in the pace of the Oaks through the middle section of the race. The Coronation Cup field made up more than three seconds on the Oaks field between there and the line, but the overall time of the Oaks was still very quick.

Although the race was run to suit, I am still happy to take High Heeled out of the race. She was held up out the back in the early stages, well away from the early competition for the lead. She actually couldn’t go the pace, she had to be ridden along by Michael Hills through the early stages, and she was detached from the main body of the field until the started to turn left. From there, however, she travelled well. Hills had to take a tug on the crown of the home turn to stop her clipping Sariska’s heels. When he pulled her wide and asked her to pick up, the response was impressive. It wasn’t push-button acceleration, but it was still visible, and it saw her make nice progress in behind Sariska. High Heeled was actually travelling better than anything on the approach to the two-furlong pole, and she kept on really well all the way to the line, without perhaps being able to match them for pace, but she was still only beaten a total of two and a half lengths, and she came well clear of the fourth horse.

The key to High Heeled is the ground. She really does need an ease to be at her best – she was well beaten in the Musidora on fast ground, but she had beaten the colts in a good conditions race, which is working out well, on easy ground at Newbury on her debut this season before that – and she was unlucky that they didn’t really water before Oaks day this year, as they usually do, because of the rain that was forecast for Friday night. Barry Hills apparently thought long and hard before deciding to allow her take her chance in the race.

She is not in the Irish Oaks, but that is the race for her now, and she could be supplemented. If the ground were to come up on the easy side, she should have a big chance in that against anything, and that includes the two who beat her at Epsom, and she should be allowed go off at a decent price if one or both of her conquerors make the trip. Softer ground, a more galloping track and a slower early pace should see her improve again. She is also in the Ribblesdale at Ascot next Thursday, but I would be worried about her there on fast ground.

5th June 2009