Horses To Follow » Captain Cat

Captain Cat

The Group 3 Superior Mile at Haydock on Saturday may not have taken as much winning as the official ratings suggested in the end, but Captain Cat was really impressive in so doing, and he has lots of potential to progress even further.

The winner’s main market rivals were Ocean Tempest and Short Squeeze, but Short Squeeze is at his best when he is held up in behind horses in big fields and delivered on the line, tactics that had been quite expertly executed by Pat Smullen on his previous run at York, so the six-runner field was never going to be in his favour. Ocean Tempest ran well, but an official rating of 117 probably flatters him just a little, and the ground on Saturday probably wasn’t as soft as ideal for him.

For all that, you can only ever beat what the put in front of you, and Captain Cat beat good horses here, probably with far more in hand than the bare winning margin suggests. Held up in the early stages of the race by George Baker, he angled to the outside early in the home straight. He moved up threateningly at the two-furlong pole, when only Short Squeeze was on his outside, and he picked up impressively when his rider asked him to go and win his race. He did appear to carry his head a little high, and he did roll down towards the inside rail, but neither trait is really a negative simply because, crucially, he continued to go forward.

Roger Charlton’s horse is five years old now, but he has not had that much racing, and he is seriously progressive now this season. Winner of a good conditions race at Lingfield in April, he had a nice break after that and returned to run out an impressive winner of the Group 3 Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury in mid-August.

He returned at Goodwood a week later in the Group 2 Celebration Mile, when James Doyle just left him too far out of his ground. In fairness to the rider, he held his hands up and admitted as much afterwards. Perhaps it was a case of he and Freddy Tylicki on Hors De Combat watching each other, and not paying sufficient attention to Joe Fanning and Bow Creek, who made all the running and held on, despite veering across the track.

Saturday’s run was much more like it. Captain Cat picked up his progressive thread again. He goes well on easy ground, but he is probably at his best on good ground or faster, and his turn of foot is at its most potent when he can be held up off a fast pace. He is entered in the Group 2 Joel Stakes at Newmarket at the end of September, and that looks like an ideal next target. He won his maiden over that course and distance two and a half years ago. He is an exciting horse and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

6th September 2014