Horses To Follow » Prince Connoisseur

Prince Connoisseur

Prince Connoisseur put up a really nice performance to win a decent five-furlong handicap at The Curragh on Sunday.

In one sense, you could argue that John Feane’s horse got the run of the race. Fran Berry had him smartly away from stall seven, he was quickly in front and was therefore able to tack over towards the stands rail. After that, he was never headed. Berry did not sit down to ride him until after they had passed the two-furlong pole, and he didn’t reach for his stick until the approach to the furlong pole. When he did, his horse found plenty, going on to put daylight between himself and his pursuers and keeping on well to win by three parts of a length.

In another sense, however, it is very easy to argue that he was the best horse in the race on the day by a fair way.

There did not appear to be much, if any, advantage to be gained either from racing prominently or from racing close to the stands rail. The next six horses home after the winner finished within about a length of each other, and three of them raced out in the centre of the track. Also, three of them were held up through the early stages of the race, while three of them raced fairly prominently. It may not have been an advantage at all to race prominently. As well as that, while Prince Connoisseur raced on the stands rail, he had to use up energy in the early part of the race to get to the front and to be far enough clear in order to allow him make his way over to the stands rail.

This was a good race. The three horses who finished immediately behind the winner, Captain Cullen, Shipyard and Kernoff, are good handicappers, and all three were well-backed. While Kernoff may have been a little unlucky, he did get squeezed out of it early on, it is difficult to argue that the best horse did not win. Also, the time of the race was good, slightly faster than standard and the second fastest comparative time on a good day’s racing.

Prince Connoisseur is only three, he did not race as a juvenile and this was just his sixth run ever, so he still has massive scope for progression as a sprinter. Winner of four of his six races now, he had never faced more than seven rivals before Sunday, so the fact that he has now proven that he can operate in a big-field handicaps opens up more options for him. He wore blinkers on Sunday for the first time, but there does not appear to be anything ungenuine about him, he ran all the way to the line on Sunday and he left the impression that he could have found more if something had challenged him more strongly.

The handicapper has raised him 6lb for Sunday’s win, which is not harsh. Fran Berry has ridden him to three of his four wins, he obviously knows the horse well now and gets on well with him. A son of Art Connoisseur, he may be a little under-rated still because he only got home by three parts of a length on Sunday and because he hails from a relatively small yard. But he is talented, he has the potential to be even better than he has shown to date, and he will be interesting again wherever he races next off his new mark of 89. He has won on easy ground and on Polytrack as well as on Sunday’s fast ground, and he has won over six furlongs as well as Sunday’s five, so he has lots of options.

28th September 2014