Horses To Follow » Father Time

Father Time

Father Time was the one to take out of the Great Voltigeur for me with an eye on the St Leger. With no obvious front-runner in the race, there was always a danger that this race would be run at a crawl. That undesirable scenario didn’t exactly materialise, with Jimmy Fortune deciding to try front-running tactics with Monitor Closely, but the early pace was still to better than fair, with Fortune getting the fractions spot on on a horse who was trying a mile and a half for the first time, and who was a doubtful stayer on pedigree. Father Time, who wears a cross noseband, the badge of a hard puller, was just a little bit free through the early stages, but settled well enough, last of the seven runners. Eddie Ahern took him towards the stands side in the home straight in order to mount his challenge, and he moved up easily on the near side, travelling best of all, to be no more than two and a half lengths off the leader with three furlongs to go. At that point, as Harbinger and Alwaary came off the bridle, he looked the most likely winner of the race. However, Monitor Closely was kicking on from the front and Father Time had to get after him. When Ahern went for him and asked him to quicken, Father Time proved reluctant, his head came up and he changed his legs, the actions of a horse who was feeling the ground, as his trainer Henry Cecil suggested afterwards. He did seem to be holding fire a little. He does show quite a bit of knee action, and the ground was fast at York on Tuesday, so it is almost certain that that was the case. Even so, although he was well beaten by the winner, he did stay on at one pace to take third place.

The best run of Father Time’s life was his win in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot, when they went really fast from early, which helped him to settle and enabled him use his ability to gallop to maximum effect. He got away with good to firm ground that day, but Ascot is an idiosyncratic track with its own unique surface (it may be more than coincidence that horses who do well on all-weather do well at Ascot) and he is almost certainly a better horse on ground that has a little bit of ease. He is a galloper, not a quickener and, as such, the St Leger should be ideal. They usually go a fair pace in the Leger and the ground is usually on the soft side of good. He is by Dansili, but his dam is a Sadler’s Wells mare who won over a mile and a half at three, so he has every chance of staying the mile and six of the St Leger. His racing style suggests that he will improve for stepping up in trip. He was carrying a 3lb penalty in the Great Voltigeur in a race in which penalised runners have a terrible record. Also, the Great Voltigeur is the best recent guide to the Leger, with the King Edward being the second best, so it looks like Cecil has had the Leger in mind for Father Time for a while. As long as the ground doesn’t come up good to firm or faster, he has to be on your shortlist, and the bookmakers may have taken a chance by pushing him out to as big as 14/1.

18th August 2009

© The Irish Field, 22nd August 2009