Horses To Follow » Opera Gal

Opera Gal

Opera Gal was a shade unlucky given the way things panned out for her in a decent 12-furlong handicap at Ascot on Saturday. She didn’t get to lead, she had made all when she won her maiden in impressive fashion on her previous at Warwick, but Franny Norton surrendered the early lead fairly tamely to the Mark Johnston-trained Bay Willow, which meant that Opera Gal had to race off the rail and with a horse in front of her the whole way. Joe Fanning dictated a sedate pace on Bay Willow, then kicked off the home turn and it took Opera Gal a little while to find her stride, but she was gaining on the winner deep inside the final furlong. Bay Willow edged to his left, which hampered Opera Gal a little inside the final 50 yards. She wouldn’t have won without that, but it just made sure. Opera Gal would have fared much better if she had been able to lead, or if the pace had been stronger. The time of the race was actually faster than standard, which suggests that Joe Fanning must have really quickened it up on Bay Willow just before the straight, and it was always going to prove hard for Opera Gal to pass a typically tough Mark Johnston horse from there. Also, Andrew Balding’s filly was 2lb out of the handicap, and Franny Norton was putting up 2lb overweight, so she was effectively 4lb wrong.

Opera Gal’s pedigree is all stamina, this was only her second start over 12 furlongs, her other start over the trip was in the Edinburgh Cup where she ran a fine race, and she will be interesting when she turns out again over this trip. This was just the seventh race of her career, her fourth of the year, and she remains progressive.

25th July 2010