Horses To Follow » Golden Desert

Golden Desert

Golden Desert was an impressive winner of the Class 2 seven-furlong handicap at Goodwood on Saturday, value for a fair bit more than the winning margin of a length. Smartly away from his good draw in stall nine, just one of the inside rail, he tracked the habitual tearaway Dunn’o through the early stages then settled back in fifth spot, just four lengths off the pace as they rounded the home turn. Alan Munro was happy to bide his time from there, the fast pace that Dunn’o had set ensuring that the leaders would probably come back to him. He angled towards the outside before they reached the two-furlong pole, then asked his horse to improve from a furlong and a half out, without necessarily asking him for everything. It was a cool ride from Munro. Noble Citizen went for home at that point and took it up off Dunn’o inside the final furlong, but Munro seemed to be always happy that he had the leaders in his sights. He didn’t give Golden Desert a smack until well inside the final furlong when he still had two lengths to make up on the leader, but his horse found those two lengths with ease, and more. He caught Noble Citizen 100 yards from home and powered on to win by a length, eased down at the line.

You would be forgiven for putting a small question mark over the form of this race because the favourite Suruor missed the break quite badly and didn’t really run his race, but the runner-up Noble Citizen was well fancied and well backed, and Dunn’o is a useful performer around a turn when he gets to lead, as he did here. Also, the time of the race was good, by far the fastest comparative time run on the round course on the day.

This was a really nice performance from an improving type. Second in the Ladies’ race at Ascot on King George day – a race that he won last year off a 5lb lower mark – and second at to Swift Gift in a good handicap at Newbury in the middle of August, both over seven furlongs, he ran out a wide margin winner of a handicap at Goodwood at the end of August when dropped to six furlongs off a career-high mark of 92. It looked then like the drop to six furlongs had brought about the improvement, but it now looks like it was the strong pace that enabled him settle and quicken off it. He had his fast pace again on Saturday, with Dunn’o and two or three other front-runners in the line-up, and that played to his strengths, even over seven furlongs, as he was able to post one of the most impressive performances of his career off another career-high mark of 100. Strange to relate, of a five-year-old who has run 31 times, but he is really progressive now. The handicapper will obviously have his say again, but the race for him now is the seven-furlong Totesport Challenge Cup at Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes meeting. That race is over the specialist distance of seven furlongs, and he is certain to get the fast pace that he needs to be at his best. Furthermore, he loves Ascot. He has raced there five times, including in several big-field handicaps, and he has never been out of the first six. He finished fifth in the race last year off a mark of 89, so at first glance he is going to have to have improved a fair bit if he is to be competitive this year. However, he raced on the unfavoured near side last year, and he actually won the 15-horse race on the near side. Also, he was only a length and a half behind the winner of the race, Furnace, and he looks like a vastly improved performer this year. He is high on my shortlist for the Totesport Challenge Cup at present.

12th September 2009

© The Irish Field, 19th September 2009