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Opinion Poll

There was an awful lot to like about the performance that Opinion Poll put in in winning the 12-furlong heritage handicap at Ascot on Saturday. There was some consternation about his draw in stall one, widest of the 19 runners but, statistically, over a mile and a half at Ascot, a low draw is not a disadvantage. Frankie Dettori, the Ascot maestro, probably turned it into an advantage by racing down the far rail under the trees for the first three furlongs before moving over and taking the first bend down by Swinley Bottom in fourth place, right up with the leaders. It shows the importance of having a ‘thinking jockey’ on your side when you are having a bet. It was difficult to make ground from the back at Ascot on Saturday, as it usually is, and you needed to be handy in this contest, even though the early pace was generous, and Dettori ensured that he was handy. Opinion Poll travelled up well around the outside and moved up to challenge his stable companion and long-time leader Kings Destiny at the two-furlong poll. From there, the pair of them had it between them, it never looked like anything else was going to get into it from the rear and, while it did take Opinion Poll longer than you might have thought to collar his stable companion, when he did, well inside the final furlong, he surged to the front impressively and won by over three lengths.

This was just the sixth run of the Michael Jarvis-trained colt’s career. Winner of a good maiden at Leicester last October, he had looked good at the start of this season, winning a good handicap on heavy ground at Haydock in May, but he did disappoint a little in the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot. It is easy to put that down to the ground, and Jarvis gave him a nice break after that with the intention of bringing him back for an autumn campaign when the ground would be softer. It is a plan that is working out well so far, and it can work out even better. He is still hugely progressive. It may have been inexperience that caused him to take so long to go past his stable companion on Saturday, and he can go on from this now. The handicapper has raised him 9lb for Saturday’s win, but his new mark of 104 could still seriously under-estimate his ability. (For starters, the horse that he beat into second place at Haydock in May, Distant Memories, is now rated 24lb higher than he was then.) They are talking about running him in the November Handicap at Doncaster on 7th November, and he would be of interest in that as long as there was cut in the ground, even though his new mark of 104 would give him more weight than ideal. Three-year-olds have a good record in the race. Looking further ahead, he could be a player in some of the very top middle distance races next year on easy ground. The John Porter Stakes at Newbury in April would be a good starting point.

4th October, 2009