Horses To Follow » Elusive Pimpernel

Elusive Pimpernel

Elusive Pimpernel has always been a classy individual, he made a very promising start to his three-year-old campaign last year, running out a four-length winner of the Craven Stakes before going on to finish fifth in the 2000 Guineas (Canford Cliffs was only a length and a half ahead of him that day). He suffered a setback just before he was due to run in the Prix du Jockey Club, which resulted in him missing the remainder of last season and, after a promising enough return this time around, had rather lost his way a little. A good run in the Group 3 Rose Of Lancaster Stakes at Haydock on Saturday, however, seemed to signal that his turn could again be soon in coming.

John Dunlop’s colt was travelling sweetly as they turned into the straight but he wasn’t helped at all by Simon De Montfort’s mis-hap. Simon De Montfort was behind him but Elusive Pimpernel seemed to stumble when the other horse unseated his rider, most likely the Godolphin horse clipped heels with Elusive Pimpernel. The pace picked up directly after that, it seemed to take Elusive Pimpernel a while to find his stride, it appeared that he was just caught a bit flat-footed, although it could also have been that he was busy regaining concentration after that incident. He initially found himself out towards the middle of the track, probably the slowest part of the track, and he was never going to catch the winner Class Is Class, who is well up to Group 3 standard, probably higher, but the son of Elusive Quality stayed on past everything else to take second in front of some highly capable individuals. A faster pace would have helped him, and he can do better now off a stronger gallop, or a step up in trip (he should have no problems staying a mile and a half), or both.

Providing John Dunlop gets a clear run with the horse now he could well be on target for some big end of season races. He has always been very highly regarded by Dunlop and his team and he could now start to show just how good he is. He might just have needed a few runs to come to himself after a year off the track, and this was a much more encouraging effort than his last couple of runs. He was not far off Group 1 level at all at two (he was second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Racing Post Trophy) and on his two runs at three, and while he may struggle to reach that level again, it would be no surprise if he were up to winning a Group 2 before the season is out. He is in the Group 3 Kilternan Stakes at Leopardstown on Irish Champion Stakes day and, while Leopardstown might not be his ideal track – he is a horse who probably takes plenty of winding up and all his wins and good runs have been on tracks with long home straights – he will be of interest if he does make the trip. He is still lightly-raced, remarkably he has run just nine times in his life, and there is probably still more to come.

6th August 2011