Horses To Follow » Duke Of Clarence

Duke Of Clarence

Duke Of Clarence put up a really likeable performance in a good one-and-a-half-mile handicap at York last Friday in running the progressive Arab Spring to half a length.

Settled nicely just behind the leaders through the early stages of the race, Richard Fahey’s horse probably wasn’t suited by the sedate early pace, and he got caught a little flat-footed when they picked up at the three-furlong pole. It looked at that point as if he was going to be completely swamped, so it is to his credit that he picked up from the two-furlong pole and stayed on as well as he did among horses.

Still no better than fifth passing the furlong pole, he stayed on strongly through the final 200 yards to close on Arab Spring all the way to the line, going down by just a half a length in the end, with over two lengths back to the third horse Itlaaq.   It was not surprising that he stayed on better than most, but the manner in which he made Arab Spring fight for victory was impressive over a trip that is a little shy of his optimum.

This was just the Verglas gelding’s second run for Richard Fahey, and his second since being gelded, so there could be more progress forthcoming.  He didn’t run badly in the Chester Cup on his debut for Fahey, without the cheekpieces that were back on on Friday, but this was a significant step forward from that, probably over a trip that is short of his optimum.  The best performance of his career before this was probably when he won a good handicap over a mile and six furlongs at Goodwood last June for Richard Hannon.

A return to that trip could bring about further improvement, and it would be surprising if connections were not thinking of him in terms of the Ebor now.  The fact that he ran so well on Friday on his first ever run at York augurs well for the Ebor back at York, a track at which course form is a significant asset. He also has good form at Goodwood – as well as winning that handicap there last June, he finished a close-up third behind last week’s Yorkshire Cup winner Gospel Choir over a mile and a half there last September – so he would be of interest if he were to line up at Glorious Goodwood.

The handicapper raised him 4lb for Friday’s run, but that was to be expected.  He still has further scope to progress now, he goes well on good and easy ground, and he will be of interest wherever he runs next.

16th May 2014