Horses To Follow » Father Time

Father Time

Father Time was a really impressive winner of the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot last Friday. Debussy raced a little freely in front with the result that the pace throughout was generous and consistent, and that suited Father Time admirably. Travelling best of all on the run around the home straight, Eddie Ahern actually stole a peak under his right shoulder at the two-furlong pole before he asked his partner to go on and win his race, and when he did, the response was really impressive. Father Time quickened from the front off the fast pace, and quickly put a distance of ground between himself and his pursuers. Black Bear Island and Your Old Pal got out after him, but Father Time just went further and further clear to post a really impressive win.

This was Henry Cecil’s colt’s first attempt at 12 furlongs. He shaped like he would appreciate a sterner test when he stayed on really well to just fail to catch Palavicini in the Fairway Stakes over 10 furlongs at Newmarket on his previous outing off a sedate pace. Interestingly, if he had won that race, there is every chance that he would have contested the Epsom Derby, and he wouldn’t have been out of place in it. Just as interestingly, the Fairway Stakes is the race in which Cecil ran two of his previous King Edward winners before their Royal Ascot engagements.

It was significant that stable jockey Tom Queally seemed to prefer Native Ruler over Father Time, and that was hardly surprising, as the latest report from Warren Hill from the Racing Post’s Tony Elves was that Native Ruler had caught and passed Father Time in a piece of work last week. It may be that Native Ruler is a bit of a morning glory, as he has always been highly thought-of. He has to go and do it now. In fairness, he is deserving of another chance as he raced fairly freely on the outside for much of this race into a fast pace. He may settle better in behind horses next time.

Back to Father Time. He is a really exciting prospect now. It may not have been the best King Edward ever run, but Black Bear Island set a fair standard, and the winner did it really well. All the talk directly afterwards was about the St Leger, for which the sponsors put him in as a 6/1 shot, but he is a fair tool with which to go to war even before then. I was hoping that he might be supplemented to the Irish Derby on Tuesday – the wide expanses of The Curragh and the fast pace that the Ballydoyle team are sure to set would have been ideal – but that may come a little soon, and King Edward winners have a poor record in the Irish Derby. However, owner Khalid Abdulla’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe mentioned the Grand Prix de Paris as a possibility on Monday, and that may be the race for him. That race is fast replacing the Prix du Jockey Club as the main French test for three-year-old middle distance colts, given that it is run over a mile and a half instead of 10 and a half furlongs, and if Juddmonte could ensure a decent pace in that race, Father Time would be a really interesting contender.

19th June 2009