Horses To Follow » Eton Forever

Eton Forever

Eton Forever looked good in winning the Spring Mile at Doncaster last Saturday, the ‘consolation’ Lincoln. He travelled really well just behind the leaders on the stands side, came to join Manassas at the two-furlong pole and showed a good turn of foot to burst clear a furlong and a half out and come right away from the field in the manner of a very progressive horse. Admittedly he was in the perfect position throughout, tracking the pace on the near side, the side from which the first three home came, but the performance that he put up in winning was nevertheless highly impressive.

The Roger Varian-trained gelding is lightly raced. (This win also spoke volumes for Varian’s ability as a trainer, erstwhile assistant trainer to the recently-retired Michael Jarvis). This was only Eton Forever’s fifth lifetime start having been off the track since early July last year and gelded in the meantime, and he has the potential to be very good. Only 6lb separated top weight from bottom weight here, so it was more like a conditions race than a handicap, and there were several progressive types in the race, probably more than there were in the Lincoln. Kalk Bay for instance had featured very prominently in ante post lists for the Lincoln itself through the winter. The time was good too, just 0.02secs/furlong slower than standard, the second fastest comparative time on the day, only marginally slower than the time that the 104-rated six-year-old Sweet Lightning clocked in the Lincoln, carrying 3lb less, and much better than any of the other races.

Eton Forever’s form was strong coming into this and he was by far the best horse on the day. He may have been feeling the ground – he hung a bit to his right and had been off since – when he finished fifth behind Kakatosi (now 21lb higher) at Sandown last year, so he may not want the ground lightning fast. His only previous win had come on the Polytrack at Kempton, a forgiving surface which often suits horses with leg problems. He has obviously always been well regarded. He was sold for 200,000gns as a yearling, and after winning his Kempton maiden as favourite, he went off at 5/4 favourite and 9/4 for nine and 10-runner handicaps respectively off marks in the low 90s. He should be better than a handicapper, and he wouldn’t be out of place at all in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket’s Craven meeting now. On breeding, a mile or nine furlongs should be his optimum trip.

2nd April 2011