Horses To Follow » Via Con Dios

Via Con Dios

Via Con Dios put up what was almost certainly the best performance of his life to win the finale at Leopardstown on Saturday under a fine ride from Johnny Murtagh. He continues to progress, and should be worth following still.

John Hayden’s gelding wasn’t ideally drawn in stall 13 towards the outside, but Murtagh gave him a little squeeze upon exiting the stalls, and he had the early pace to be able to move up easily into the front rank and across from the outside to sit in second place in the early stages, just on the withers of the early pace-setter Show Blessed. Murtagh was happy to sit there just outside the leader for as long as he could, down to the bottom of the back straight and around the home turn. Show Blessed came under pressure at the top of the home straight, and Bravely Fought challenged on the outside two furlongs out. Indeed, Sabrina Harty’s gelding may even have just headed the winner at that point, but Via Con Dios was only getting going. With the far rail to help him, and showing a really willing attitude, he quickly got the measure of Bravely Fought and set about seeing off Motafaany, who challenged wider out, and Aspectoflove, who challenged even wider and even later.

You could argue that both the second and the fourth were a little unlucky. Motafaany got checked a little in his run among horses a furlong and a half out, while Aspectoflove was no better than fourth last at the top of the home straight. That said, it is difficult to argue that Via Con Dios was not the best horse in the race on the day. True, he did have a good racing position throughout, but he had the early pace to get and hold that position, and you always felt that he was going to see off the challengers. He was still in front as they pulled up around by the intersection with the old sprint track, and you just got the feeling that he won with more in hand than the winning margin of a head.

The son of Orpen remains hugely progressive. He has now won three of his last four races. In the only race in which he was beaten in his last four, a 10-furlong handicap at The Curragh last month, he took it up at the two-furlong pole and went fully two lengths up, ears pricked, before he seemed to idle a little, possibly with his stamina gauge nearing the red zone on the soft ground, and he was done on the line by Penthesilea Eile, a progressive filly of Jim Bolger’s who was a good winner of a handicap at Cork on her subsequent run off a 5lb higher mark.

The handicapper has rewarded Via Con Dios with a hike of 5lb for his win on Saturday, but he should still be competitive off his new mark of 88. He has only run eight times in his life, and he is most progressive still. Although he has won twice on soft ground, he obviously enjoys this better ground well, and he should be worth following wherever he goes next over any distance from a mile to 10 furlongs.

5th September 2009

© The Irish Field, 12th September 2009