Horses To Follow » Absolutely So

Absolutely So

Absolutely So put up a really impressive performance to win the Sky Bet City of York Stakes at York on Friday. Settled just behind the fast pace that Glory Awaits set, he picked up nicely for Oisin Murphy three furlongs out, joined the leader a furlong and a half out, and picked up well inside the final furlong, surging forward to win nicely by a length and a half from Glory Awaits, who kept on well to retain second place.

This was a good race. It was only a listed race, but it is easy to argue that the quality of the race was beyond listed class, and York are actually seeking an imminent upgrade in class. Three horses in the race were rated 110 or higher, and the first six home were rated 103 or higher. Absolutely So won well with a little in hand from Glory Awaits, who finished second to Dawn Approach in the Guineas last year, and who won his first race since at Chester last month. Also, the winning time was really good, faster than par, the fastest comparative time of the day and the only one that was faster than par, marginally faster than Sole Power’s win in the Nunthorpe, and the Nunthorpe was far faster than every other race.

It appears that Andrew Balding’s horse is as good over six furlongs as he is over seven, but he saw this trip out really well, he was strong all the way to the line and beyond, and it may be that he is becoming better over seven.

He continues to progress. On his previous run, also over seven, in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket, he chased a fast pace in a race that was set up for the closers, yet he was still able to keep on well enough to finish second behind Heaven’s Guest.

He has been on the go since January, he has run eight times in that period, but he had a little break before the Wokingham, and he looks as good as ever now. Indeed, Friday’s run was probably the best of his life. He could progress again from that run, just the 11th of his career, and he could be even better if and when he encounters easier conditions. His trainer was worried about fast ground before Friday’s race, and his two really good runs before this, at Goodwood in May and in that Bunbury Cup, were both on easy ground. He could be a high-class horse on easy ground. He is obviously really highly-regarded at home, he was backed from a morning price of 14/1 in to a remarkable 4/1 favourite for the Wokingham, and he was backed again here from a morning price of 9/1 to 6/1 co favourite.

Andrew Balding spoke afterwards about the six-furlong race at Ascot on Champions Day, that is apparently the plan. It may pay to tread warily there. Not only would he be dropping back down in distance from a trip that he stays well, but the only time that he has run at Ascot was in the Wokingham this year, when he ran disappointingly. You can forgive any horse one poor run, but the market suggested that day that he was in top form, and Ascot is a track at which course form is important.

Not that he can’t win at Ascot, just that past experience says that you should think twice beforehand the next time he runs there. Also, it may be that he will be more effective over seven furlongs now than over six. He will be of greater interest if he runs somewhere else before then over seven furlongs, like, if he took up his entry in the Group 2 Park Stakes at Doncaster, especially if it is on easy ground. He could be rated around 10lb lower than the top-rated horses in the Park Stakes, even after a 6lb hike for Friday’s win, so he could be available at a decent price.

22nd August 2014