Horses To Follow » Sharpened Edge

Sharpened Edge

Sharpened Edge would probably have won the five-furlong handicap that opened proceedings at Sandown on Friday had she kept straight. There is usually an advantage to being drawn on the far side on the sprint track at Sandown, an advantage that is in direct proportion to the softness of the ground, and they had a deluge on Thursday night there (between 10mm and 15mm, depending on which water gauge on the track you wanted to believe) with the result that that advantage was fairly pronounced for the opener. Consequently, Sharpened Edge’s draw in stall 10 of 15 declared runners, with stalls 11 and 14 vacant, was unquestionably an advantage. She made the most of that advantage by jumping well and tacking over to effectively bag the far rail. However, although she had a rail against which to race, she showed a marked tendency throughout the race to want to move to her left.

Liam Jones managed to keep her straight and going forward until the got to the two furlong pole. There, as soon as she hit the front she went fairly sharply left, a manoeuvre that wasn’t helped by the fact that the jockey had his whip in his right hand. She held her head a little high as well and, by the time Jones managed to switch his whip, the filly had careered half way across the track and effectively forfeited her winning chance. In fairness to her, she did run on again once she straightened up and had something to chase, but she was never going to regain the lead, and she went down by about a length and a half in the end.

This was a strange manoeuvre from the daughter of Exceed And Excel given that she had won over the course and distance three weeks previously. In her defence, there is a wide expansive right-handed turn at the end of the five-furlong track at Sandown, but there is a turn at the end of most straight courses. This was her fifth start, so it shouldn’t have been greenness that caused her to drift. It may have been that she was in front plenty early enough, or it may have been that something was pinching her or ailing her. Whatever the reason, she could easily have won the race had she not drifted. She has been raised just 1lb to a mark of 81 for this, a mark that probably still under-estimates her ability. She is entered in a Class 4 contest at Ascot on Saturday, and she should go close in that. She remains progressive and she should be worth following.

3rd July 2009