Horses To Follow » Top Tug

Top Tug

Top Tug was unlucky not to finish closer in the 10-furlong handicap that opened proceedings at Glorious Goodwood on Tuesday.

One of the last out of the stalls, Sir Michael Stoute’s horse found himself well back in the field through the early stages of the race, which is not ideal in middle-distance races at Goodwood.

Fifth last rounding the top turn, he tried to chart a path among horses towards the inside, but they were packed fairly deep and the gaps were not easy to find. Ted Durcan had to sit and suffer, motionless, on the run to the furlong pole as his rivals all around him were asking their horses for their efforts. He eventually did get a gap, but he was inside the furlong pole by then, and he was still only about 10th, four lengths behind the leader. He picked up from there, and he finished well, but he ran out of room again on the far side inside the final 100 yards and he had to be eased up again. The record book says that he finished fifth, two and a half lengths behind the winner Mount Logan, but that does not do justice to Top Tug’s effort or his ability. It is a common cry at Goodwood, but he would have been much closer had he enjoyed a cleaner run through the race. He might even have won.

Even so, this was much more like it from Top Tug. He was an exciting middle-distance three-year-old handicapper last season, he beat Cloudscape by three parts of a length at Newmarket at the end of May last year, and Cloudscape went on to run big races in the Tercentenary Stakes and the Gordon Stakes. Top Tug was off until October after that and, in a 12-furlong handicap at Newmarket off a 10lb higher mark, he didn’t run badly when, again, he didn’t have a clear run through his race.

He had been largely disappointing in two runs this season before Tuesday, but both of those runs were on fast ground. He showed on Tuesday that he is at his best when he can get his toe in at least a little. He was back down to a mark of 92 for Tuesday’s race, 2lb below his peak, and that is a mark off which he can win a big 10 or 12-furlong handicap on easy ground. He will be of interest wherever he goes next on easy ground.

28th July 2015