Horses To Follow » Mirrored


Mirrored and Alfathaa were the two eye-catchers from the Coral Challenge, the one-mile heritage handicap at Sandown on Saturday. Both were dropped out early, both wheeled into the straight travelling really well, fourth last and last respectively, both struggled to get racing room, and both picked up nicely and finished better than any of their rivals to take third and fifth places respectively. The pace wasn’t as frenetic as perhaps Ryan Moore and Richard Hills expected, Crackdown had it pretty much all to himself up front from early, so perhaps the leaders didn’t come back as much as you might ordinarily have expected in a 16-runner handicap over a mile at Sandown. Actually, Crackdown almost lasted all the way to the line, going down by just a head in the end to the fast-finishing Acrostic.

Alfathaa was mentioned here as one to follow after he finished fifth in the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot, and he still is. He remains progressive. As does Mirrored. Michael Stoute’s colt also ran a cracker at Royal Ascot, in the Britannia handicap when he raced on the far side and still only went down by a neck to Fareer. He was winless in three starts last year, but he won his first two this season at Kempton and Sandown, both races over a mile, looking like a horse with a future when he stayed on well at the latter track to win off a mark of 82. His current mark of 97 is just 1lb higher than the mark off which he raced on Saturday, and that could be lenient. He is still lightly raced, he is almost certainly still improving and, as a son of a Sadler’s Wells mare he has every chance of getting further than a mile.

A strongly-run mile suits well for now, and he will be of big interest if he takes his chance in the Totesport Mile at Glorious Goodwood on the last day of this month. Fifteen Love became the first three-year-old to win that race since 1997 when he prevailed last year, but members of the Classic generation have finished placed eight times from just 28 runners in the last 10 years, representing a placed strike rate of 28%, which is really impressive (just 13% of four-year-olds and 15% of five-year-olds were placed in the race in the same period). Ante post betting on this race is fraught with danger given the historical importance of the draw (remarkably, the first five home last year were drawn in the five highest stalls, and all of the last nine winners were drawn in stall 16 or higher, none of them more than four off the inside rail, which is quite incredible in fields that have numbered up to 22 and never less than 17), but, as long as he gets a reasonable draw, Mirrored’s current odds for the race of 14/1 are more than fair.

4th July 2009