Horses To Follow » Radiohead


Radiohead put in a really impressive performance to land the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thursday. All the talk beforehand was of the American horse Yogaroo, after his stable companion Jealous Again had sluiced in in the Queen Mary the previous day, and of whether he would have the speed to burn off Monsieur Chevalier, representing the Richard Hannon yard, which had won the Coventry with Canford Cliffs two days previously. In all of this hyperbole, Radiohead went a little under the radar. He had run really well to finish second to High Spice on his racecourse debut at Newmarket on 1000 Guineas day, which was significant given that Brian Meehan’s juveniles almost always come on for their racecourse debuts, and then he didn’t come out of a canter when landing his maiden at 1/10 at Bath on his prep run for Ascot.

What makes this performance really noteworthy is the fact that Radiohead was one of the prime sufferers in the scrimmaging that happened at the two-furlong pole. Yogaroo moved to his left when his rider hit him with his stick in his right hand, and cannoned into Monsieur Chevalier, who in turn gave Radiohead a broadside. When that happens to a juvenile in any race, it is unusual for the horse to regain his equilibrium and mount any kind of meaningful challenge. When it happens in a Group 2 race at Royal Ascot, you can pretty much forget about it. But Radiohead was soon back on an even keel, Jamie Spencer allowed him enough time to re-organise himself before asking him to go forward again, which he duly did, caught Reignier who had gone for home, and ran out a really impressive winner in the end.

It was the Johannesburg colt’s attitude and resolution that impressed as much as his turn of foot. Spencer said afterwards that all the horse wanted to do at home was please you. Despite the fact that he raced a little keenly through the early stages of this race, the way he finished it off suggests that he will probably be even better stepped up to six furlongs, and he will be a big player in any of the top juvenile contests for which he lines up between now and the end of the season.

18th June 2009