Horses To Follow » Eton Rifles

Eton Rifles

Eton Rifles, formerly trained by Howard Johnson, improved last season having joined David Elsworth, winning a handicap at Goodwood in August, finishing second in the Ayr Gold Cup, and winning a listed race at the Curragh before being sold to Stuart Williams at the Tattersalls Horses-In-Training Sale. He continued his progression for his new yard when winning another listed race at Fontainebleau at the end of November and he looked a horse to look forward to this season.

Indeed, after his run in the Listed Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury on Sunday, he has now run three eye-catching races this season and looks ready to take a step forward. He returned in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on Guineas weekend, shaping nicely over five furlongs, a trip short of his best, especially considering he was racing down the near side which was probably not the place to be on the day. He again shaped encouragingly behind Wizz Kid in the Group 2 Prix Du Gros-Chene at Chantilly next time, not quite having the pace of the front three late on, and he is worth noting again now after Sunday’s run.

The Pivotal gelding travelled best of all for most of the way off a slow enough pace set by Definightly and Libranno. Having raced on the rail just behind the leaders there was room to challenge when William Carson pulled out just outside the final furlong, but the gap closed before he had the chance to go through it. He got bumped by Our Jonathan as Artistic Jewel edged to her right outside that one, forcing him in, and Eton Rifles was shuffled back before staying on well again to finish a close-up fourth.

He looked like he was going to come through and win this when the gap developed and given the way he ran on close home you would have to think he would have gone close if the gap hadn’t closed again. He is obviously close to the top of his game on this evidence, especially given that he was conceding a 4lb penalty, and there could be a decent race in him now. He is probably at his best on easy ground over a stiff six furlongs, though he is in a Group 3 five furlongs race at The Curragh on Derby weekend, and he would be of interest in that if he takes his chance if the ground is on the easy side.

17th June 2012