Horses To Follow » Dark Pine

Dark Pine

Dark Pine was a beaten favourite, a beaten odds-on shot, but he still ran well to finish second in the seven-furlong median auction maiden. Slowly away from his inside draw and ridden along early by Oisin Orr, he was ridden along again for a few strides as they left the back straight. He was well back and along the inside as they turned for home, it appeared that he was going as fast as he could go, but he was still well back in the field when they straightened up for home. Only ninth of the 12 runners passing the three-furlong marker, he stayed on well for pressure from the two-furlong pole, despite hanging a little to his left at the furlong marker, but he just couldn’t catch Bestrella, who had raced prominently and travelled well and stayed on well herself.

Dermot Weld’s horse was rated 13lb superior to his main market rival Bestrella, who was one of only two other horses in the race who had an official rating. But he was conceding 8lb to Johnny Murtagh’s filly, including rider Ben Coen’s claim, and she is a progressive filly herself. More than that, he shaped as if this seven-furlong trip is on the sharp side for him now. He has raced six times now and he hasn’t won, but he shaped really well on his debut this season at Leopardstown in another seven-furlong handicap in his first-time blinkers, his first run since being gelded, to finish second to Confidence High, who was 6lb well in, beaten just a neck and finishing clear of the third horse. Confidence High went out next time and finished second to Sinawann in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes, and Andy Oliver’s horse is now rated 101, 26lb higher than he was when Dark Pine ran him to a neck, off level weights, including rider Andrew Slattery’s claim.

There could be a good handicap in Dark Pine now off a mark of 88 and, a half-brother to Speaking Of Which and Designated Decoy, who both won over 10 furlongs, he could do better when he is stepped back up to a mile or even beyond.

Dundalk, 12th July 2020