Horses To Follow » Saddler’s Rock

Saddler’s Rock

The three-year-old Saddler’s Rock is the horse to take out of the Listed Irish Field St Leger Trial at The Curragh on Saturday. Johnny Murtagh bounced the Sadler’s Wells colt out of the gate and initially looked to be setting a decent enough pace. Murtagh slowed it up though after about half a mile, presumably anxious to give his horse an easy time on the front end, and not to bring Fame And Glory’s stamina too much into play. He continued to slow it down right the way around until about three and a half furlongs out, just before the straight, at which point the whole field bunched up as both Fictional Account and Fame And Glory moved up on the outside of the leader. As they turned into the straight, Fictional Account showed the best acceleration of the three and went into a half-length lead a furlong and a half out before moving over in front of Saddler’s Rock to the rail. She was not clear of John Oxx’s horse though, and Murtagh had to rein Saddler’s Rock back sharply just over 150 yards from the line. It looked like that would be the end of his challenge, so badly was he impeded, but he picked up straight away after his rider got him balanced again, and it looked briefly like he might be able to mount a challenge between Fictional Account and Fame And Glory, but that gap soon closed on him and Murtagh had no choice but to just coast in for the last 50 or 60 yards.

This was a big run from Saddler’s Rock. He couldn’t initially match Fictional Account’s acceleration, but he was sticking right at it on the rail, he was at least level if not still slightly ahead of the five-time Group 1 winner Fame And Glory at the point at which he was impeded. Given the way he started to come back at the front pair before he was short of room again, and the fact that he was only beaten a length and a half in the end, suggests that he would have gone very close had Fictional Account maintained a straight line to the finish. He was strong in the market beforehand, so he was probably impressing at home in the lead up to the race.

Saddler’s Rock did not manage to win his maiden until the end of June, but he has progressed significantly since then. He won a handicap over a mile and six furlongs at Leopardstown by three and a half lengths on his previous run, handling the quick ground well for a horse whose action suggests he is best on a softer surface. He was put up 10lb for winning there and has gone up just another 4lb for this fine run, although he was getting 12lb from Fictional Account and 17lb from Fame And Glory. This was just his fifth start though, and a mark of 101 means that the top handicaps are still are viable option for him. John Oxx mentioned the Irish Cesarewitch as a possible target after his Leopardstown win, and the truer test of stamina there would suit him if he were to be aimed at that race. He remains progressive and certainly remains of interest.

20th August 2011