Horses To Follow » Times Up

Times Up

Despite the 12 runners, the one-mile-six-furlong Group 2 Prix Maurice De Nieuil at Longchamp last Thursday featured a slow early pace, as French races invariably do, and that did not suit the British challenger Times Up at all.

He is a strong traveller who picked up impressively off a strong pace on his previous run at York to pull clear of his rivals, including Montaff, who in his two subsequent runs has gone on to finish second in both the Group 2 Henry II Stakes and the Northumberland Plate. Yet, despite John Dunlop’s gelding’s penchant for a strong pace, he still travelled powerfully and kept on really well on Thursday to go down by just a short neck to the useful Watar, who was much better positioned – on the rail and tracking the pace – to take advantage of the sedate pace than Times Up was. They all finished in a heap, a length and a quarter separating the first five, and the time was not good, so the form of this race may be under-rated.

The winner, although he is six, is fairly lightly-raced and is still unexposed at this trip and beyond, and the favourite, Ley Hunter, has finished close up behind some of the best middle distance horses in France on several occasions this season, while the fourth home, Ted Spread, is a former Chester Vase winner who was coming into this race on the back of a career best in the Listed Pontefract Castle Stakes, and who had the run of the race out in front here. The form may be worth more than it initially appears.

Times Up is a highly talented individual, he remains progressive, and he can do even better when returned to a race with a stronger pace. He should be followed wherever he goes next, and he would be a really interesting contender for the Irish St Leger, which is apparently under consideration, as he does stay a mile and three quarters well. He is talented and progressive enough to merit his position in the line up for that race, and he could go well in it at a decent price, given that that race is also Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame And Glory’s likely target.

14th July 2011