Horses To Follow » Codemaster


Codemaster was a useful juvenile last year, second on his third start behind Ladies Are Forever in the Redcar Two-Year-Old Trophy having won a Newmarket maiden very impressively, but he stepped up on that on his three-year-old debut when winning the seven-furlong King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday.

He was quite keen leaving the stalls on the wide expanses of Newmarket and was taken over to the group towards the middle of the course to try to get some cover as two of them, including the overall leader Masaya, stayed towards the stands rail. He still hadn’t properly dropped the bridle as they came to the half-mile pole, the four in the centre a couple of lengths off the leader, and was niggled along to pick up as they raced down towards the Dip. He had to be pulled out around I Love Me as that one edged to her left and, although it took him a while to find his feet, he ultimately picked up very nicely to draw a couple of lengths clear having drifted towards the near side rail.

He was still a little green through this race, refusing to fully settle early on, not immediately picking up when asked to, and drifting left inside the final furlong, repeatedly changing his legs, not handling the Dip, but he created a big visual impression on first viewing, and that impression was confirmed by the fact that he broke the course record and dipped under Racing Post par time on the day. Although there were only six runners, several of them had good form to their name. I Love Me was rated 103 coming into this, she was good enough to win the £200,000 Tattersalls Millions Auction Trophy on her debut last year and to be placed in the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes. She hadn’t run badly in the 1000 Guineas, and she was really strong in the market here, suggesting that a big run was forthcoming. Masaya had won a similar big sales race at Newmarket last year, while Utley had finished fifth, five lengths behind Wotton Bassett, in the Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagadere and had run well in the Free Handicap on his return. All of Codemaster’s main rivals had run this term already, but he ultimately beat them all comfortably. He has earned the right to go for the Jersey at Royal Ascot now, and the more even track should suit him. The King Charles II Stakes has been a really good pointer to the Jersey Stakes in the past, and it could be the ideal springboard for Codemaster to victory at Royal Ascot.

14th May 2011