Horses To Follow » Australia Day

Australia Day

Australia Day ran a cracker in the circumstances to finish third in the Class 2 10-furlong handicap at Sandown on Friday. It looked beforehand as if the major worry for Paul Webber’s gelding was that fellow confirmed front-runner, Road To Love, would take him on for the lead. However, Road To Love’s stable companion Alpen Glen had made all when she had won at Chester on her previous run, just the second of her life and, with Road To Love restrained early by Dettori, it was the three-year-old filly Alpen Glen who put it up to Australia Day through the first couple of furlongs. The net result was that the pair of them went too quickly. They stretched the 11-runner field by about eight lengths before they had gone two furlongs, with the result that Royston Ffrench reined Alpen Glen back and allowed Australia Day the lead on his own. Martin Dwyer tried to steady things down in front from that point but, by then, a lot of the damage had been done, both the front two had expended significant energy in getting there.

What makes this effort so meritorious is the manner in which Australia Day kept on at the end of the race despite the energy expended at the beginning. Alpen Glen was a spent force early in the home straight, but Australia Day travelled better than anything, and still led the field down to the two-furlong pole. At that point he still had two lengths in hand of his closest rival, and looked like he might just hold on despite his early exertions, but he was collared close home by the closing pair Fanjura and Greylami, both of whom had been held up well off the early frenetic gallop. Even so, Australia Day only gave best 100 yards out, was beaten just a length and a half by the winner, finishing six lengths in front of the fourth horse. The time of the race was really good, just 0.03secs/furlong slower than standard and almost a half a second faster than the time that Kirklees clocked in the listed race run over the same course and distance a half an hour earlier, when they didn’t hang around either, with Tranquil Tiger to take them along in the early stages.

This was just Australia Day’s third run of the season, and he seems to be progressing now again even at the age of six. Bought out of Charles O’Brien’s yard to go hurdling for Paul Webber, he didn’t manage to win over hurdles, but it looks like he is much better on the flat anyway. He is at his best when he is allowed to lead, and he has won twice and been placed once now in three attempts over 10 furlongs at Sandown. The handicapper has raised him 1lb for his latest performance to a mark of 98, but he is better than the bare form of that run, and he still could be leniently handicapped. There is at least another race in him if he is not taken on for the lead early on, and he is worth keeping an eye on.

3rd July 2009