Horses To Follow » Captain Bertie

Captain Bertie

Captain Bertie is the horse to take from the John Smith’s Racing Stakes, the Class 3 one-mile handicap run directly after the John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday. He was settled in the second half of the field, with Eddie Ahern’s intentions clear as they swung into the straight, keeping his mount widest of all and heading over for the stands side rail. He attempted to come from well back in a race not run at a great pace and in which it paid to race handily (as it often does at York) with three of the first four horses into the straight ultimately filling three of the first four places. He was urged along from some way out by Ahern but was picking up and making good ground when he was checked in his run as Miami Gator was bumped to his right as Mont Ras edged out to try to tackle the long time leader Snow Bay, cutting off Captain Bertie’s passage under the rail. That was his race over, but he still picked up again when switched around the horse that had hampered him, running on under just the lightest of nudging from Ahern to finish a close up seventh, leaving the impression that he had plenty more left to give.

Barry Hills’s colt was well backed for this race, from 9/1 into 5/1 favourite on course, and that is significant given that he was the only three-year-old in the race. He was probably racing on the unfavoured part of the track in the straight as it turned out, many of the winners on the day came down the middle of the course, Green Destiny came down the centre in the John Smith’s Cup, and even in this race, it was Norman Orpen, the widest challenger of the protagonists, who prevailed. Those two factors, as well as the manner in which he picked easily up again close home when switched, points Captain Bertie out as very much one to follow.

The son of Captain Rio had run well behind the progressive Tazahum in the Esher Cup at Sandown first time out this season, the winner going on to win the Listed Heron Stakes back at the same venue next time out and then running respectably in the Group 3 Tercentary Stakes at Royal Ascot. Captain Bertie did very well to run him so close in receipt of just 6lb as his jockey put up 2lb overweight, with the pair of them finishing a long way ahead of the rest. His next run probably came a bit quick for him when he was a beaten odds-on favourite in a Chester handicap, and then things didn’t go his way in the Brittania Handicap at the Royal Meeting, he had to race in the unfavoured far side group and, despite the fact that his sire’s progeny often go well with cut in the ground, he has a smooth flowing action more suited to better ground and he probably didn’t appreciate the rain-softened ground at Ascot.

The Faringdon Place inmate is still progressive and he is almost certainly still well handicapped on a mark of 88, unchanged from Saturday and just 4lb higher than his Sandown second. He is in the Totesport Mile at Goodwood, but is unlikely to get into that race off his rating as a three-year-old. The one-mile handicap on the first day of the Glorious meeting won by Start Right off the same mark of 88 last year could be a viable target for him.

9th July 2011