Horses To Follow » Illustrious Blue

Illustrious Blue

Illustrious Blue put up a nice performance to win the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on Wednesday. Held up out the back, last of the 10 runners until the entrance to the home straight, he showed a fine turn of foot when Jim Crowley moved him to the outside, passing seven rivals in the last two and a half furlongs to get up and beat the gallant Aajel by a half a length.

This was Illustrious Blue’s first attempt at a distance in excess of a mile and a half, so in one sense, the slow early pace that Aajel was allowed to set played into his hands. However, the last place you want to be off slow early fractions is at the back of the field, where Illustrious Blue was, and there was a lot to like about the turn of foot that he showed in the home straight, making up about six lengths, widest of all, into a pace that wasn’t slackening.

This was the son of Dansili’s 50th run, he doesn’t have many secrets from anybody, but it looks like he has improved markedly for stepping up significantly in trip to two miles. He used to be a nine to 10 furlong horse – indeed, he won a big one-mile handicap at Glorious Goodwood in 2006 – but he has continually improved for stepping up in trip, first from a mile to 10 furlongs, then to a mile and a half, and now to two miles. There isn’t much in his pedigree to suggest stamina (he is out of an Efisio mare who won four times over five furlongs and he is a half-brother to useful sprinter Romany Knights), but you have to believe what you see more than what you read in a pedigree, and he stayed this two-mile trip well, albeit off a sedate early pace.

It may be a bit much, stepping him up to two and a half miles for the Ascot Gold Cup, but the Goodwood Cup over two miles could be the race for him now. He loves Goodwood, six of his nine career wins have been gained there, and that race would be an ideal target for him now.

28th April 2010