Horses To Follow » Palace Moon

Palace Moon

Palace Moon put up a fair performance to finish third behind Laddies Poker Two in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot on Saturday. The Fantastic Light gelding seemed to rear as the stalls opened, he just missed it a bit, with the result that he was two lengths behind the second last horse in the near side group after they had gone 50 yards and, about eight lengths behind the leaders by the time they had gone a furlong.

As it turned out, he had Laddies Poker Two just in front of him at half way, and he was able to track the winner through as he made his move from the two-furlong pole. He wasn’t travelling as well as the Jeremy Noseda mare, and he wasn’t able to show the acceleration that the winner produced to take it up at the furlong marker, but he still progressed well among horses to emerge from the pack and just get up to snatch third place on the line.

This was a high class Wokingham, run in a faster time than the time that Starspangledbanner clocked in the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes run over the same course and distance a half an hour earlier. Palace Moon would not have won if he hadn’t missed the start – the winner won with so much in hand and is almost certainly a Group winner, possibly a Group 1 winner, in waiting – but he would have challenged Striking Spirit for second place had he been able to begin his challenge from closer to the pace. He made up about five lengths on the runner-up from the two-furlong marker to the line, finishing best of all. More importantly, however, this was his best run since he won a listed race at Newmarket last August, and that suggests that he is back.

A half-brother to July Cup winner Sakhee’s Secret and to multiple listed race winner Palace Affair, Palace Moon shaped like a potentially top class performer for Hughie Morrison when he won a big sprint handicap at Doncaster at the start of last season by five lengths. It was disappointing that he couldn’t beat Judd Street in a listed race at Salisbury next time, in a race that both Sakhee’s Secret and Palace Affair had won before him, but the winner is a decent performer and he was only beaten a nose. Also, he was off the track for two months after that, it obviously wasn’t his running.

He didn’t fare too badly on his return, finishing fourth behind the high class Balthazaar’s Gift and subsequent Group 1 winner Regal Parade in the Hungerford Stakes over seven furlongs, which was probably a furlong too far, before he showed a fine turn of foot to win that listed race at Newmarket back over six.

He shaped with a fair degree of promise on his debut this season when a close-up fifth behind Sir Gerry in a listed race at Salisbury just six days before the Wokingham, a race in which he also missed the break. He joined William Knight in the interim, and it will be interesting to see how he develops now for his new trainer. He is lightly-raced even though he is five, and you just get the feeling that there is still some latent talent there. The handicapper left him on his mark of 105 after the Wokingham, which is 2lb lower than his highest mark last year, and that could under-estimate him. He goes well on easy ground as well, and he could be a Stewards’ Cup horse.

19th June 2010

© The Irish Field, 26th June 2010