Horses To Follow » Tactic


Tactic was the one to take out of the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot last Friday for me. The Sadler’s Wells colt stumbled on leaving the stalls, causing Richard Hills to have a look down to make sure that everything was okay with the horse. He was drawn in stall one, right on the outside, so after that slight mis-hap, he had no option but to tack across in behind runners, which wasn’t ideal for a horse who had raced prominently in his previous two races.

The first turn comes up after about three furlongs in two-mile races at Ascot, and by that stage, Hills had managed to tuck Tactic in behind runners in about eighth or ninth place, three horses off the rails. Wide into Swinley Bottom and still a little keen, as he was seeing more daylight than ideal on the outside of runners, and he had dropped back to sixth last by the time they raced out of Swinley Bottom. From there, about six furlongs out, Hills decided that he needed to take closer order, and allowed his mount his head up the side of the track on the outside, with the result that he was fourth, just behind the three leaders and travelling well on the outside as they turned for home.

Nothing was travelling better at the top of the home straight, but the jockey had to take Tactic wide around the Godolphin horse Mastery in order to deliver his challenge. Once he did, the Sadler’s Wells colt picked up really well under minimal encouragement, striking the front a furlong and a half out and actually trading at as short as 2/5 in-running. From there, however, the tank began to empty. He had done so much running up to that point, racing wide, and with the choke a little out, that he just didn’t have anything left to give in the final 150 yards, and he ultimately faded to finish fourth, about five lengths behind the winner Holberg, who stayed on really well for pressure on the far side.

This was still a fine performance by Tactic. It was just the sixth run of his life, and it was his first try at a distance in excess of one and a half miles. The only win of his career was achieved when he won his maiden over a mile and a half on fast ground at Goodwood in May, after which trainer John Dunlop said that he might want to get his toe in a bit, although the heavy ground that he encountered on his subsequent start at Haydock was just too soft. On this evidence he doesn’t quite get two miles. He may be effective over a mile and six furlongs however, if he can settle better and tuck in more than he did here. The handicapper has raised him 9lb to a mark of 95 for this run, but even that mark may under-estimate his ability. The Melrose Handicap at York in August could be the race for him now. That is a 0-100 handicap for three-year-olds run over a mile and six, so he would be towards the top of the handicap if he were to take his chance in it, but York is not that difficult a track at which to carry weights on good or fast ground, and he would be an interesting contender in that. Even if he doesn’t run in that race, he should be worth watching wherever he appears next.

© The Irish Field, 27th June 2009