Horses To Follow » Riobamba


Riobamba was the one to take out of an interesting nine-furlong conditions race for horses rated 80 or less at Fairyhouse on Tuesday. After breaking well from a good draw in stall 15, Gary Carroll was happy to settle Eddie Lynam’s filly back a little but still in the leading group on the rail behind a decent pace that was set by Fleeting Moment. A little keen then when the pace steadied in the middle section of the race, Carroll found himself with a wall of horses in front of him early in the home straight. He first manoeuvred out for a gap, which closed, then went back towards the rail, where he progressed before pulling the filly off the rail again and around Fleeting Moment and Shahrafi. Once in the clear, although the filly had two lengths to make up in the final furlong, it always looked like she was going to get there. However, while all this was going on, Pat Smullen was weaving his way through on the outside on Blue Ridge Lane, and the Dermot Weld-trained colt came thundering home, making up at least six lengths inside the final furlong to win, eased down, by a half a length.

The natural inclination is to take Blue Ridge Lane out of the race, given the ground that he made up in the home straight. He wasn’t as well drawn as Riobamba, he probably would have been an unlucky loser had he not got up, and he will probably be worth following as well. However, if forced to choose between the pair, I just prefer the runner-up. She had the early pace to adopt and maintain a handy position whereas the winner struggled a little for early pace, which is why he found himself so far back at half way, and it may have been that the winner was flattered a little bit, given that they went quite quickly early on. If Riobamba had been able to get out to deliver her challenge early in the home straight as Gary Carroll wanted, it is probable that she would have gone on by more than the half-length by which she was beaten.

That said, both the winner and the second are progressive. Blue Ridge Lane was impressive in winning over 10 furlongs on heavy ground at Clonmel on his previous start, and he should be seen to better effect if stepped back up to that distance, even though he is by Indian Ridge out of a Selkirk mare. Riobamba, on the other hand, may be better served by dropping back down to a mile. A winner at Naas at the beginning of August when she showed a fine turn of foot to just get up and catch Oasis Fire (a winner on her subsequent run) in a good time, she had no luck in-running when finishing well to take fifth place in a 0-90 handicap at Killarney later last month. Tuesday’s run was just the seventh of her life, she remains progressive and she should be worth following. The handicapper will give her a couple of pounds for this, but the mark of 75 off which she raced on Tuesday probably under-estimates her ability considerably.

22nd September 2009

© The Irish Field, 26th September 2009