Horses To Follow » Union Island

Union Island

Although he lost out to Changing The Guard in the end, Union Island was the one for me to take out of the Royal Yorkshire Stakes at York last Saturday. Drawn best of all in stall one, he quickly established a position just behind the pace in the early stages of the race. As it turned out, it probably wasn’t the place to be, as Distant Memories and Tepmokea took each other on for the early lead and almost certainly went far too fast. Neil Callan tried to take Union Island back a little, but he was still right on the leaders’ heels all the way around the home turn until they straightened up.

At that point, Callan had no option but to go for home as the leaders dropped away, which he duly did, after delaying for as long as possible, when Dettori came up alongside him on Sovereign Remedy. Union Island quickly went past long-time leader Distant Memories, fought off the attentions of Sovereign Remedy (who didn’t appear to stay this 10-and-a-half-furlong trip, despite the fact that he is out of an Irish Oaks winner, and needs to go back down to a mile), and then set about trying to repel the late and final challenge of Changing The Guard. He couldn’t do that, but he lost no caste in going down by just a head to the Richard Fahey gelding. Changing The Guard had actually been settled last of the 11 runners in the early stages, he was the last horse to turn for home, so the frenetic early pace clearly played into his hands.

If you discount Union Island’s penultimate run at Epsom, which you easily can, as he simply didn’t handle the track, he has never finished out of the first three in seven starts. He continues to progress. This was the best performance of his career to date, and he is probably even better than the bare form he displayed here given how the race was run. He is at his best over 10 furlongs on good or fast ground off a strong pace, and a 3lb hike for this should not halt his progress.

13th June 2009