Horses To Follow » Traffic Guard

Traffic Guard

I am not sure that Traffic Guard was ridden to best effect in the listed 12-furlong race at Chester on Saturday. Martin Dwyer’s hand may have been forced a little, given that he was drawn in stall five of six, and that the early pace wasn’t that fast. Perhaps he expected Ahmed Ajtebi on Urban Poet to make it, not a wholly unreasonable assumption given that the Godolphin horse had made the running in the Gordon Stakes on his penultimate start and had raced over a mile and six furlongs on his previous outing. He was drawn in stall six, the only horse who was out wider than Traffic Guard, and it would have been ideal if Dwyer had been able to track him through the early stages and just tuck in behind him. After breaking well, however, Ajtebi took Urban Poet back, with the result that Traffic Guard raced three wide and freely around the first couple of bends. Once they straightened up for home first time, Dwyer nudged Traffic Guard along in order that he take up the running and bag the rail. The manoeuvre set the horse alight a little, however. Four lengths clear going around the bend past the stands, he led them a merry dance down the far side at a fair pace, and still looked to have matters well in hand passing the three-furlong pole, still on the bridle, still in front, as everything else came under a drive. Passing the furlong pole, however, things didn’t look so promising as Traffic Guard began to flounder and Snoqualmie Girl began to stay on for pressure on the near side, the filly just getting up to win by a head.

A couple of things about Traffic Guard. Before he won at Windsor at the end of August, he was an eight-to-10-furlong horse. The best run of his life was when he finished second to New Approach in the Irish Champion Stakes last year. The second best run of his life was when he was beaten a head by Phoenix Tower in the 2008 Earl of Sefton Stakes over nine furlongs. Before Windsor, his three wins had been gained over six furlongs and a mile. He had never been beyond a mile and two furlongs. When he did win at Windsor, he was settled nicely off a fast pace that was set by Warringah, and came through his field nicely to win going away. These things are easy in hindsight, but I am not so sure that, on just his second attempt at a mile and a half, he should have been ridden so aggressively. He clearly does get a mile and a half, and it may still be his best trip now as a five-year-old, but I would like to see him ridden with more restraint next time. If he is, there could be a good prize in him.

12th September 2009