This horse is equally at home in Group 1 sprints as well as the big handicaps such as this. He was an incredibly unlucky fourth under Ryan Moore (wrong side, trouble in running) in last year’s renewal and then went on to finish second in the Ayr Gold Cup before occupying the same position behind The Tin Man at the highest level at Ascot in October.
He has taken a little time this season but showed his turn was very near with a really good run behind Harry Angel in a vintage July Cup last time out.
Murtagh is really impressing me, so his 7lb is a bonus in an ultra competitive event and judging by Thursday’s sprints the far side is the place to be so stall 8 for a hold-up sprinter should be ideal. Back him each-way and take the concessions.
Battered did nothing for this column last weekend but I’m giving him another chance.
The ground had dried up at York more than I anticipated and the race was over seven furlongs, when it might be that he is now ready for the mile trip.
Also the change of headgear from cheekpieces to full blinkers might waken this idle type up a bit more.
The key factor, however, could be the switch to Silvestre de Sousa, who I believe excels in keeping horses focussed when they might not be entirely willing. The ground will be as it was at York when he won and such was the impression he made that day that I am prepared to forgive.
Pioneering is still a maiden and will no doubt never repay the 475,000 he cost previous connections as a yearling but judged on his runs so far he will definitely prove worth the 16,000 his current owners got him for and he can make a downpayment in the 2.50 at Thirsk.
He has definitely been brought along steadily with handicaps in mind and I believe he will benefit from a decent sized field and presumably a stronger pace than he got last time at Hamilton, where he got boxed in off a moderate pace. He looks the type to go on a roll when he does click and that might well be on Saturday.
Dave Nevison’s Saturday selections:
2.50 Thirsk: Pioneering (nap)
3.35 Goodwood: Growl (each-way)
4.45 Goodwood: Battered