After the unbelievable weekend it was nice to back to our local track of Thirsk for the start of another action packed week. After the stars took the stage at Royal Ascot it was the opposite end of the racing ladder as Kevin sent out some nice debutantes to begin their racing careers. Hala Hala Hala and Arrow of Gold were seen on the racecourse for the first time and made perfect starts, keeping the good run of form going.
Hala Hala Hala is the daughter of crack sprinter Exceed and Excel and she showed her rivals a clean pair of heels in the 6f British Stallion Studs EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes. A first foal of Dam Hala Hala, she was purchased by Rabbah Bloodstock back in the 2018 foal sale at Tattersalls. Kevin got the call a year later with the opportunity to train the filly for Sultan Ali and was delighted to see the colours back in the yard.
Hala Hala Hala had done everything right at home and shown all the correct signs from an early stage. Although she has plenty of natural speed it was felt that 6f would be the ideal trip for her as a starting point so when the race cropped up at Thirsk, Kevin selected his local track as her first racecourse experience. Ten fillies were declared for the 6f contest and though there was little form to go on there was some nice types walking around the parade ring. Tom Eaves was to get the leg up as Hala Hala Hala looked to make a winning debut.
The stalls were placed down the centre of the track so Hala Hala Hala being drawn 11 meant she would on the wing. This was not ideal and although she jumped well, with nothing on her outer she just jumped out to her right. It wasn’t too much of a diversion and Hala Hala Hala quickly corrected herself and allowed Tom to steer her back towards the rest of the field. The early pace wasn’t too strong and Hala Hala Hala attached to the side of the field in midfield. As the pace was steady for this sprint, there were a few fighting for their heads through the early stages. There was very little experience in the field so the majority of the jockeys were looking for cover. This saw Hala Hala Hala move up towards the stands side as she got into a lovely rhythm and ended up being just sat off the pace after the first couple of furlongs.
Debutantes were to the fore and Tom had his filly travelling smoothly. Hala Hala Hala was stretching out and Tom allowed her to use her stride. This increased the tempo of the race as the filly came through to lead moving towards the 3f marker. One or two of the outsiders struggled to match this increase in pace and the field just started to disperse with Hala Hala Hala stretching the 10 runners. The favourite, who had had a third place in the bag, followed Hala Hala Hala through as the market leaders were starting to come to the fore.
Heading on down to the 2f marker Hala Hala Hala began to turn the screw as those giving chase were starting to come off the bridle. Tom held his filly together as she was still holding the advantage and travelling well. Little was getting into the contest and the favourite was struggling to match Hala Hala Hala. On the far side of Hala Hala Hala, fellow debutantes She’s So Nice and Miss Nay Never were laying down the biggest challenges. Inside the final 1/4 mile Tom just started to wind his mount up, getting her to lengthen. Hala Hala Hala started to increase the tempo, shifting up through the gears. Now they were all under pressure but Tom wasn’t asking for everything yet. Hala Hala Hala still held a narrow advantage but it looked as though she had plenty left in reserve.
Passing the 1f marker was when Tom decided it was time to go. Hala Hala Hala was 1/2 length up but Tom had been patient, keeping the filly balanced and lengthening. Now he changed his hands which caused Hala Hala Hala to change legs and just wander towards the rail. With a quick flick, Tom straightened his filly up and she quickened away to increase her lead to a length. Miss Nay Never was fighting hard but Hala Hala Hala was only just hitting top gear and the further they went, the stronger she looked. Hala Hala Hala was still learning on the job and with 100 yards to run the penny really started to drop. With every stride she got stronger and began to assert her dominance. Pulling away from her rivals, Hala Hala Hala galloped all the way to the line under a very educational ride. Hala Hala Hala hit the line with a 1 1/2 length advantage.
This was a lovely introduction from Hala Hala Hala and she was professional throughout. After getting into her stride, Hala Hala Hala was straight as a gun barrel and strode out, travelling like a nice filly. She got herself into a winning position and once Tom asked her to quicken up, Hala Hala Hala lengthen away and put the race to bed. The winning margin could have been more but Tom looked after the filly, giving her a nice education on debut. She had done everything right at home and she took this to the track, impressing on her first run. Hala Hala Hala will improve for this run and the future looks bright. It was nice to have the colours of Sultan Ali back in the yard and it looks as though he has a nice filly to look forward to.
Pedigrees offer so much in racing. Knowing what the family has done can give trainers pointers as to what they should expect from youngsters whilst punters will use it as advice when there is very little experience on show. Arrow Of Gold has a regal pedigree, being a 1/2 brother to non other than Golden Horn, the champion from 2015. He siblings have set a lofty bar to match but Arrow Of Gold made a wining debut in the 1m4f racingtv.com Maiden Stakes.
There are very few times when you have the opportunity to train a horse with a pedigree like Arrow Of Gold. Kevin spotted the colt at Tattersalls Book 1 and the son of Galileo was knocked down at £450,000. With the entries being so early, Kevin had to give Arrow Of Gold one in the Derby as his pedigree had suggested so. This did not put any pressure on to get the colt out on to the track and it became clear through his juvenile season that Arrow Of Gold would require patience and time. Thankfully Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum agreed with Kevin and Arrow Of Gold would be given as much time as he needed to mature.
At the end of the season, 2yr olds can run over 1m2f but Kevin decided that Arrow Of Gold would be better suited to those sort of trips with more time on his back. This meant that everybody would need to wait until 2020 to see the chestnut on the racecourse. The winter had done him the world of good but like so many in his position, lockdown prevented him starting his career early this season. Having waited for so long it was frustrating not being able to get Arrow Of Gold out but that little bit more time would be no harm at all.
Thirsk is a lovely track to introduce horses, it is very fair and the galloping nature means horses have a fair run. The long straight is another benefit as horses have time and do not feel rushed off their feet. Arrow Of Gold would line up in the second division of the maiden and it looked like the slightly stronger race. The little form on show was fairly decent and there were some well bred newcomers. Arrow Of Gold topped that and along with his price tag, punters attached themselves to the colt, seeing him head the market at 5/4 fav. Tom Eaves was booked, looking to double up on the day.
The stalls were in front of the empty stands for the 1m4f start and Arrow Of Gold jumped out on level terms. Nobody wanted to go on through the early stages and this immediately led to a very slow pace. Make Haste Slowly, who had the best form behind him, had landed in front and unchallenged was allowed to crawl. Tom was very keen to get a lead for his inexperienced colt which meant he had to be patient. From the outside he tucked in, pulling Arrow Of Gold across to sit mid division. The field were taken past the winning post and into the first left hander. Despite losing the lead for a few strides, the pace setting returned to Make Haste Slowly who was aptly named for this race.
Very little would change as they raced down the back straight as the jockeys looked happy to follow the slow pace. Tom had got the cover he wanted and he was not going to give it away. It was interesting to see what the tactics would be as there would be an injection of pace as some point but when and who would it come from. There were a couple of strides down the back that Arrow Of Gold showed signs of greeness. Just under a mile from home the field would enter the home bend. The sedate pace up to this point changed as the leader increased the tempo for the first time. Despite a sudden change there was little reaction from the rest of the field as they all seemed to match the leader stride for stride.
Swinging around the bend and into the home straight, the leader’s tactics became clear. Using the left hander as a sling shot he kicked from the front in an attempt to stretch the field and snatch an advantage. This time the increase in pace did have an affect and the rest of the field had to work, trying to hold their positions and not let the leader get away from them. From the 3f marker Arrow Of Gold was caught flat footed, taken aback by the sudden dash. His inexperience certainly showed at this stage and he now gave Tom some work to do. Changing his hands and getting lower in the saddle, Tom had to get his mount balanced and on the right lead, gathering him together so the colt could go and finish his race off. They were still a long way from home and Tom would use this time to try and get Arrow Of Gold clued up and hopefully gallop out.
Moving into the final 2f, Make Haste Slowly still held the lead and now looked to put the race to bed. The leader pulled away and increased his lead to over 2 lengths. There was still 400 yards to run but the advantage was clear and behind him were inexperienced horses. Arrow Of Gold was showing this and had been running in snatches down the straight but Tom had now got him balanced and moving forward. Down but over 3 lengths, Arrow Of Gold had a lot of work to do but was beginning to quicken up. The penny was beginning to drop and Tom decided to use his stick to keep the colt straight and try and get a little more. Arrow Of Gold was learning with every stride and now started to close the gap to the leader.
Entering the final furlong Make Haste Slowly still held sway and had the far side rail to race along. The leader had eyes for the line and it seemed as though Arrow Of Gold would be the only danger as he began to close. There was still 1 1/2 lengths difference between the pair but Arrow Of Gold was really starting to get to grips with the racing. The further they went the better he was getting and inch by inch the gap closed. As the lead dwindled Arrow Of Gold seemed to grow in confidence and had pulled alongside the long time leader with 75 yards to run. Once he got upsides the momentum of his finish propelled him forward. Suddenly he found his nose in front and edging further away he began to assert. Although he had only just nabbed his rival, Tom was able to ease up 10 strides from the line and Arrow Of Gold won comfortably despite the 1/2 length official margin.
Looking at the result on paper does not do Arrow Of Gold justice and his win was more impressive than it may seem. The stop start gallop really doesn’t help a horse with inexperience and that showed here. Turning for home the leader turned the race into a sprint and this caught Arrow Of Gold off guard but once he got balanced he used his long stride. He was learning on the job but the final couple of furlongs really let Arrow Of Gold shine. Once he got into stride there was no stopping him and he would with a bit in hand. It was fantastic to repay the patience of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum and hopefully this is just the start for Arrow Of Gold. He will improve a lot for this experience and is a nice prospect to look forward to.