Horses To Follow » Elusive Pimpernel

Elusive Pimpernel

There was a lot to like about Elusive Pimpernel’s performance in landing what it traditionally a hot maiden at Newmarket on Wednesday. Drawn on the wrong side in stall four, he was steadied early on by Eddie Ahern, but he travelled well down to the four-furlong pole in mid-division. At that point, however, things began to look decidedly unpromising. Ahern began niggling shortly after half-way, was decidedly rowing away before they reached the three-furlong pole and actually had to give John Dunlop’s colt a crack of the whip shortly thereafter just to set him about his business. From there, however, it was all positive. Still rowing away, Ahern took the son of Elusive Quality towards the unfavoured far side. He wasn’t travelling as well as some of his rivals but, one by one, they began to come off the bridle as well as, crucially, Elusive Pimpernel continued to go forward. Timely Jazz travelled particularly well in front and once Martin Dwyer asked him to go on up the hill, the response was impressive, and it looked like he was not for catching. However, Elusive Pimpernel continued to make progress on the far side, and he got stronger as he met the rising ground. Against all the odds, and unusually on the day for a horse racing towards the far rail, he went from a length and a half down passing the furlong pole to a half a length up by the time they reached the line, with Ahern even allowing himself the luxury of standing up in the irons in the final couple of strides.

This is almost always a race that is well worth watching with an eye on the future. High class horses often come out of it – Rio De La Plata, Dubai Destination, Belenus and Soul City have all won it in the recent past, while Balkan Knight, Giganticus, Young Mick and Fifteen Love have been beaten in it – and with a lot of the top yards represented this year (Hills, Johnston, Balding, Hannon, Meehan, Brittain, Bin Suroor, Butler and, of course, Dunlop, among them), indications were that this was not a substandard renewal. Furthermore, the time of the race was impressive for juveniles, for a newcomer, just 0.15secs/furlong slower than Racing Post standard, and just over a half a second slower than the only other race run over the same distance on the day, the Class 2 three-year-old fillies’ handicap.

Elusive Pimpernel is by the sire of Raven’s Pass and Smarty Jones, out of a Sadler’s Wells mare who won twice over a mile and a half, and who has already produced the highly talented Palavicini, conqueror of King Edward VII Stakes winner and runner-up Father Time and Your Old Pal in a listed contest at Newmarket in May. Despite the fact that this was his first ever run on the racecourse, the attitude that he displayed and the professionalism with which he went about his job, on what was probably a disadvantaged part of the track, were hugely impressive, and he can go on from this now. He should have no trouble getting a mile on this showing, and he is a hugely exciting prospect.

8th July 2009