Horses To Follow » Soldier In Action

Soldier In Action

You can allow Soldier In Action a slightly below-par run in finishing third behind Chemical Charge in a one-and-a-half-mile conditions race at Musselburgh on Friday. Harried for the lead from early by Shearling, he could never settle in front, and he was a spent force when Chemical Charge took it off him at the two-furlong pole.

Mark Johnston’s horse is still interesting though. On his previous outing, he ran a big race to finish second to Dylan Mouth in the Old Newton Cup at Haydock. Sent to the front from flagfall that day by Richard Kingscote, he was keen enough through the very early stages of the race, and it wasn’t ideal that Farquhar moved up on his outside and moved into the lead before the turn out of the back straight. Farquhar moved into a three-length lead as they reached the bend, and Soldier In Action had about another three lengths in hand over Big Country in third and the rest of the field, which was well stretched out in the face of a strong pace. It appeared as if Soldier In Action was going to be swallowed up by the pack as Big Country had caught him by the time he reached the two-furlong pole, but Mark Johnston’s horse found plenty for pressure. He stayed on well from there, got back past Big Country and, while he could not cope with Dylan Mouth’s finishing surge, he stayed on really well all the way to the line to take second place, over a length in front of the well-backed Shraaoh in third.

It was a big effort from Soldier In Action in a race that did not pan out ideally for him. They went a fast pace from flagfall, with the result that the prominent racers were probably disadvantaged. Five of the first six home all raced in mid-division or worse through the early stages of the race. Soldier In Action was the only one who raced prominently, and he raced clear of the main pack.

Alan Spence’s horse has had plenty of racing, this was his 17th run on the flat, so he is not obviously unexposed. That said, he is still only four, and it was just his fifth run back since re-joining Mark Johnston after a spell over hurdles with Nicky Henderon, during which time he won a juvenile hurdle and finished last of 15 in the Triumph Hurdle. Also, this was probably a career-best, the race was run in a good time, and he finished second having probably raced against a pace bias. He could be under-rated as a seemingly exposed horse. He raced here as if he would appreciate a slight step up from this 12-furlong trip, so he would be interesting now over a stayer’s distance. Also, he won impressively at Goodwood last October, so he will be of interest if he runs at the Festival there in two weeks’ time, a meeting at which his trainer historically has done well.

8th July 2017