Horses To Follow » Dark Mischief

Dark Mischief

Dark Mischief was a good winner of a six-furlong classified stakes at Haydock on Tuesday in a good time, and he can progress again from here. Draw closest the stands rail in stall 10, it was a fairly bold move by Dane O’Neill to stick to the rail, as they had all moved over to the middle and to the far side in the previous race, also over six furlongs, and six of the eight runners tended that way here as well. As it turned out, O’Neill was right, and both his horse and the runner-up Silaah probably benefited from racing on the stands side, but such was the magnitude of their superiority that it is probable that the result of the race would have been the same wherever they had raced.

Dark Mischief broke well and was always up with the pace, with Silaah tucked in behind him. He quickened up nicely at the two-furlong pole when O’Neill asked him to extend, but Silaah came with him. Actually, it looked as if Silaah had his measure a furlong out, but Dandy Nicholls’s gelding edged to his left from there until Adrian Nicholls switched his whip 150 yards out, and that didn’t help his cause. By contrast, Dark Mischief ran straight as a gun barrel up the near rail and ran on strongly all the way to the line to get home by a cosy enough length in the end.

This was a really encouraging performance from Henry Candy’s three-year-old gelding. His attitude was good, he ran on well all the way to the line, it was encouraging that the first two pulled well clear, even if they did race on the most favoured part of the track, and the time was good, 0.33secs/furlong faster than standard and over a second faster than the second fastest of the three six-furlong races run on the day. A winner on his first of just two starts last season as a juvenile, and fifth in a listed race on his second, it looked like Dark Mischief was set for big things this term when he won a decent looking three-year-old handicap over six furlongs at Newmarket’s Craven meeting in April. He proved most disappointing in his next four runs, however, and Candy had him gelded after Glorious Goodwood. He looked like a reformed character on his first run afterwards, when he finished third behind the good filly Jaconet at Lingfield, after being held up well out the back and running on well when it was too late. He was rated 89 before Tuesday’s race, a fair way shy of the mark of 95 that he was given after he won at Newmarket, and one which obviously under-rates him by a fair way now. He should be able to improve again on this, just his second since his gelding operation. Candy mentioned a handicap at Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes meeting as a possible next port of call for the son of Namid and, as long as the handicapper isn’t too harsh, he will be of big interest in that.

16th September 2009