Horses To Follow » Hearts Of Fire

Hearts Of Fire

Hearts Of Fire put up a huge performance to finish third behind the two Richard Hannon horses Canford Cliffs and Dick Turpin in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Ascot on Tuesday. Settled out the back in the early stages of the race by Jimmy Fortune, he was actually last of the nine runners at the top of the home straight. He picked up on the far side when Fortune went for him, but Canford Cliffs was picking up at the same time on his outside, and the Hannon horse just had the half-length on him that enabled him keep Hearts Of Fire in behind Steinbeck, who was dropping away, just when he wanted to go forward. It was only for a couple of strides, but it made a difference. After he got around Steinbeck, he was still going forward, and he went for a gap between Dick Turpin and the rail, getting into a bit of a tussle with the fading Steinbeck, a gap which wasn’t really there, before he was switched out around Dick Turpin and finished well to take third. It is stretching it to say that he would have beaten Canford Cliffs with a clear run, but it is easy to argue that he was the second best horse in the race, that he may have beaten Dick Turpin for second place had he had a clear run.

The Pat Eddery-trained colt improved markedly at the end of last season, winning his last three races, a listed race at Deauville, a Group 3 contest at Baden Baden and rounding off the season by landing the Group 1 Gran Criterium at San Siro, when he had Vale Of York, who won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on his next start, a neck back in second place. The last two of those wins were on ground that was officially described as soft, but he won his maiden on good to firm ground, and he proved on Tuesday that he had no difficulty with quicker conditions. You have to put a line through his run in the 2000 Guineas, when he just performed inexplicably poorly, but you can easily do that now after this run. It was significant that Eddery thought enough of him to allow him take his chance in the Guineas, and he was well-touted in the run up to the race. He is obviously a highly talented individual, a mile is his trip even though his dam was a sprinter, and there is a big prize in him yet.

12th June 2010

© The Irish Field, 19th June 2010