Horses To Follow » Surely Not

Surely Not

Surely Not did well to win the seven-and-a-half-furlong three-year-olds’ handicap at Chester on Thursday, and he probably won with at least a little more in hand than the bare winning margin.
Dropped in nicely by William Buick initially just behind the leaders, what could have been a perfect position morphed into a difficult position as the horse that he was tracking on the rail, Vetiver, dropped back to the second tier as Urban Sprawl moved across in front of her into the lead and onto the rail. The net result was that Surely Not was shuffled back into fifth place and in the third tier, as opposed to third place and in the second tier. To compound matters, Franny Norton steadied things down on the leader once he got to the front, which made it difficult for the hold-up horses to get into it. Still only fifth as they entered Chester’s short home straight, William Buick angled Surely Not out early in the home straight, engineered a gap for himself and asked his horse for his effort. Once into the clear, it took Surely Not a couple of strides to hit top gear but, once he did, he finished off his race strongly, getting up to beat Self Aclaim by a neck.

It was a good performance by Dominic Ffrench Davis’ horse, coming from behind horses off a sedate pace. It was a race in which it was probably an advantage to be on the pace from early, with the two horses who finished second and third behind him, the 28/1 shot Self Aclaim and the 13/2 shot Urban Sprawl, occupying the first two places from early. Surely Not had looked good in winning a one-mile handicap at Newmarket at the Craven meeting on his debut this season. He may have been helped by being held up that day in a race in which the hold-up horses were probably advantaged, but he won with lots in hand, he was in front from a fair way out and he appeared to idle in front. Raised by 7lb for that, he made light of his new rating of 86 here. He was raised by another 6lb for this performance to a mark of 92, but he is progressive enough now to take that hike in his stride. He could be a horse for the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot, he should get a fast pace in the Britannia, but he will be of interest wherever he goes next.
Chester, 11th May 2023