ARCHIE WATSON’S GOING PLACES
One statement with two alternative meanings, both relevant: Archie Watson is going places, and the Going Places who now belongs to Archie Watson. Hollie Doyle’s ride on Glen Shiel in the Champions Sprint rightly received high praise, but it rather overshadowed the training job by Watson to turn a 100-odd handicapper into a Group 1 winner.
Hambleton Racing, owners of Glen Shiel, have reinvested in Going Places, who was cheap on the face of it at just 20,000 guineas out of Roger Varian’s yard, though Going Places has clearly had his issues, aged 5 yet raced just twice. But both runs were promising, beaten at 4/6 at Kempton last February but at the hands of Godhead, who was rated 93 by the summer.
He’s very interesting material for Watson to work with, from profile to pedigree, being by Frankel and out of a Group 3 winner, and with positive tactics likely, especially from stall 2, Going Places is liable to get the jump on his main rival Starshiba (always held up so far) in the game of cat and mouse between them in the novice at 12.31.
His only win, and three of his four starts for Tony Carroll, have come over 7f, and so the burning question with Doctor Nuno is clear: is trying 10f stretching it? On pedigree you’d say yes, it really is stretching it, but he finished second – and finished well – over Wolverhampton’s 8.7f in November, and actually this might be the perfect race (11.30) for a horse moving up in trip, because of the lack of pace.
There are no familiar front-runners in the field, and Doctor Nuno’s speed relative to most could count for a lot if it does indeed develop into a dash for the cash. There are a few in-built ‘ifs’ in there, like if he settles and if stall 12 isn’t much of a hindrance, but he’s got both youth and progress on his side, basically just getting going in his eight-race career, with only half that time spent with Tony Carroll.
Not that he was away for long, but it’s good to see a jockey of the calibre of Jim Crowley kickstart his year at Lingfield, with his first rides since December 9th. By far the better of the two he’s got is Sheila in the 12f handicap at 1.40, and the 12f distance is significant because it’s Sheila’s first try at it, perhaps what she’s wanted all along, as the dam stayed that far, and she’s produced middle-distance winners.
She was beaten a nose by the re-opposing Marion’s Boy in November, when she took a while to get going, but it continued Sheila’s pattern of bit-by-bit progress, and a little may turn into a lot now she’s getting the chance to flex her stamina muscles.
She’s had just six races in her life, rather marking her out from this crowd, and the Crowley call-up is an added advantage for her.
An absence can be a positive more than a negative for some horses, as may be the case with Tommy Rock, remembering that he ran his best race as a 2yo first time up, and then his 3yo reappearance resulted in his one and only win (on the All-Weather, at Wolverhampton).
Fresh may be a good time to catch him, and it also means something that a trainer like Clive Cox is persevering with him as a 4yo, seemingly suspecting that the best of Tommy Rock is still to come.
This 7f handicap (2.50) is a 5/1 the field job, telling of its competitiveness, with little between most, but Tommy Rock does at least bring something different to the table, coming in fresh, maybe coming in hot.
Sometimes horses and riders just hit it off, as seems the case with Cardano and Richard Kingscote, who are two from two when teaming up. That was back in the summer of 2019, and they’re reuniting in this valuable 12f handicap (2.15) at a time when both are in form; Kingscote having already ridden six winners in January and Cardano arriving off a lifetime best when beaten a head by Myseven at Newcastle.
This will be his first go at Lingfield, but it promises to suit him as, though staying 12f, all his wins have come at shorter, and a bit of speed usually helps a lot around this course.
The presence in the race of Raymond Tusk and Scarlet Dragon (both off a mark of 102) helps Cardano, as it means he carries just 8-10, something of a sweet spot in the weights, and there’s half a chance Kingscote may try to grab control from an early stage. There isn’t much pace in the race, and Cardano has made the running once or twice in the past.