Horses To Follow » Van Percy

Van Percy

Noted here on a couple of occasions last season, Van Percy put up a nice performance to win the 12-furlong handicap at Lingfield on Saturday, and he could fulfill his potential this season now as a four-year-old.

Held up out the back in the early stages of the race, Oisin Murphy moved him to the outside on the run to the home turn. Widest of all into the home straight, and still last of the nine runners with two furlongs to run, he picked up nicely on the near side, closed in on the leaders from the furlong pole, and just got up on the line to beat Scottish Star by a nose.

This is the way to ride Van Percy, out the back and covered up, ideally off a strong pace, before being delivered with one run. He is a free-going sort who raced in a hood all last season and who had the headgear on again on Saturday. There were occasions last season on which he saw daylight too early, including in a good handicap at Glorious Goodwood, and in the Melrose Handicap at York’s Ebor meeting. The early pace was slower than ideal and he never had much racing room when he finished a close-up fifth behind Lahaag in a good handicap at York in October, and it was a similar story when he was well beaten on his final outing of last season at Doncaster.

Andrew Balding’s horse is interesting now for the season ahead. He shaped last season like a horse who often had more left to give than he was able to show, and he could be a well-handicapped horse this season on a mark of 90. Connections mentioned the Great Metropolitan Handicap at Epsom as a possible next target, and he would be interesting in that. He would have a good chance of getting the fast pace that he enjoys at Epsom, and he was beaten a short head in a maiden as a juvenile on his only run to date at that idiosyncratic track.

It is a slight concern that he did become a little unbalanced in the home straight that day, but he was an inexperienced horse, that was only his second ever run. There is every chance that he would handle Epsom better now.

Either way, whether he goes to Epsom next or not, he will be interesting wherever he goes next. He handles soft ground and fast ground, he could improve now throughout the season, and Saturday’s confidence-boosting win could be a springboard to even better things.

22nd March 2014