Horses To Follow » Shepherd’s Purse

Shepherd’s Purse

Shepherd’s Purse put up a good performance to win the seven-furlong handicap at Gowran Park on Monday. He seemed to appreciate the switch to front-running tactics.

Bounced out of the gate by Gary Carroll, the Pastoral Pursuits gelding was immediately disputing the lead, and he was able to get across Zalty from stall two to bag the inside rail as they left the back straight. A little keener than ideal in front if anything, his rider succeeded in harnessing his energy to an extent, but he still swung into the straight with a three-length break on his rivals. He came under pressure as they passed the two-furlong pole, and both Zalty and Reckless Endeavour tried to close him down. Still two lengths clear at the furlong pole, Reckless Endeavour did finish off his race well out towards the centre of the track, but Shepherd’s Purse kept on gamely on the far side to get home by a neck.

This was much more like it from Joe Murphy’s horse. He was a classy juvenile, he was only beaten a total of a length and three quarters in the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes, and he was only beaten a length and a half in the Group 3 Ballycorus Stakes on his second run as a three-year-old. He couldn’t build on that last season, however, and his first two runs this term were not overly encouraging, but he put all that behind him on Monday, allowed stride on in front. He is a keen-going sort and these tactics obviously suited him well. He only got home by a neck in the end, but the front three were clear and the time was good, the fastest comparative time on the day, the fastest by far of the three seven-furlong races run on the day.

It will be interesting to see where Shepherd’s Purse goes now. He is a big horse and he could just be coming to himself. He won his maiden over six furlongs, but he gets this seven furlongs well. His dam won over seven and nine furlongs and there is lots of stamina in her pedigree, so he could be worth another try over a mile. Now that connections know that these front-running tactics suit well, it may be that the will employ them now, and that he will settle even better in front. That could bring about further improvement. The handicapper will probably raise him a few pounds now, but he only got home by a neck, so he can’t be too harsh.

6th June 2016