Horses To Follow » Lightning Spear

Lightning Spear

Lightning Spear put up a really impressive performance to win a good one-mile handicap at Salisbury last Wednesday.

Slightly hampered at the start and held up early on by Oisin Murphy in mid-division behind a relatively sedate pace, he started angling towards the outside looking for racing room from the three-furlong pole. He got into the clear before they reached the furlong marker and, when he did, he picked up impressively. The Pivotal colt moved well out in the centre of the track and came nicely clear of his rivals inside the final furlong. The time was not special, but that was probably down to the sedate early pace, and it was a comprehensive performance from a progressive colt in a good race, giving weight to good horses, with the right horses in Saigon City and Rekdhat chasing him home.

The main worry about Olly Stevens’ horse before the race concerned his ability to act on fast ground. A son of soft-ground influence Pivotal, his three previous runs had been on Polytrack or easy ground, but he coped well with faster conditions here, and that adds another dimension to his abilities.

He remains unbeaten. He won his maiden at Kempton for Ralph Beckett on his only run as juvenile in August 2013, and he won a one-mile handicap at Nottingham on easy ground at the back end of last season off a mark of 85. He stepped forward from that to win a one-mile handicap at Lingfleld in late April, showing a nice turn of foot to get up and beat Sacred Act by a half a length. After that the Royal Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot was the plan, but he didn’t make the cut for that, which was a pity. He would surely have been a player in that race on this evidence.

The handicapper has raised him 8lb for Wednesday’s win, but that is fine. He is a seriously progressive individual who should be able to win a big handicap off his new mark of 104. He holds entries in both the John Smith’s Cup over 10 furlongs and the Bunbury Cup over seven furlongs on the same day in mid-July. Both of those races are early-closing races, so he will get into either one under a penalty off his old mark. It will be interesting to see which way connections go, because he shows plenty of pace, but his pedigree is all 10 furlongs, and he might be more interesting stepped up to 10 furlongs than dropped back down to seven. Given his form on Polytrack, he will also be of interest if he races in a big straight-track handicap at Ascot later in the season. That said, it may be that after the Bunbury Cup or the John Smith’s Cup, his days in handicaps will be numbered. He is unbeaten in four now, and there is no telling how good he could be.

24th June 2015