Horses are creatures of habit and there are plenty of factors that can affect their form. One thing that punters certainly look in to is horses who have course form or are course specialists. It is too early to be calling Captain Dion a course specialist but with a close second and a win to his name at Pontefract it was looking like he enjoyed the Yorkshire track. That proved true when he bounced back to form to take the 6f Visit The All New racinguk.com Handicap, taking his track form to read 211.
Captain Dion enjoyed a fruitful winter, seeing him record 2 wins and 3 places from just 6 runs. His aggressive and brave front running displays saw the gelding go from 79 to a career high of 91. Following a couple of lack lustre performances Kevin decide that he probably had had enough and gave the grey a little break to freshen him up. With almost 3 months between runs, Dion came back to the track but failed to really fire in his first couple of runs, finishing down the field. It wasn’t a complete surprise as he is a big horse and it may just have been that he needed a few runs to regain race fitness and sharpness. When the race at Pontefract came up it seemed the ideal choice, especially as it was the same race which he won last year.
Again the contest divided but the difference this year was Dion would race off 10lb higher than his 75 winning mark last season. With the field splitting there would only be 9 runners lining up which made Dion’s draw of 8 a little bit easier. Tom Eaves was in the saddle and adopted the usual positive tactics on Dion. Jumping well, the pair had a couple on their inside who also wanted to go forward. Tom didn’t want to get into a crazy fight for the lead so he didn’t force the grey forward but with enthusiasm Dion moved forward by himself. Comfortably he got into stride quicker than his rivals and took the lead from the outside, then began to track over to the rail. It was a clear length advantage that Captain Dion held as they moved past the first furlong.
For the first half of the race they race downhill along Pontefract’s undulations. Captain Dion enjoys this and moved easily through this stage of the race which meant the pace was good. With a 1 1/2 length advantage he saw nothing but daylight and the pressure he was applying was showing early on. Those giving chase were being niggled along before the 3f marker trying to stay with the gallop being set. As they moved through to the second half of the race they entered the bend and Dion was pouring it on. Obviously it was far from over and the uphill finish can catch a few front runners out who go too hard but Dion had been in this position before.
Swinging around the bend and into the straight Tom had yet to pose any questions to his mount. Dion was not giving any sign of weakening and passed the 2f pole still on the bridle and edging into a more dominant lead. Waiting for the prime moment to kick Tom allowed the gelding to fill up his lungs ready for the final push. As his nearest rivals came off the bridle to lay down their assault on the lead it was looking like they were struggling to peg back the grey. From the rear Jonny Cavagin was making great headway through the field and looked the one who was going to take his momentum to throw down a challenge.
The ground rises with around 1 1/2f to run and it was here that Tom got into his drive, gave his partner a couple of smacks and went for home. Dion responded well and picked up to kicked away from those in pursuit. He now had a clear lead of around 3 lengths going inside of the final furlong and it was up to Jonny Cavagin to give chase. Both horses were working hard and at one point it did look like the late challenge may come to fruition. As Tom drove hard in the saddle the gap just began to whittle down. Dion had not seen another rival since leaving the stalls but now he could here the sound of a rival coming closer and closer. He was not going to be denied and really stuck his neck out, giving every ounce of energy he had. With the line looming Jonny Cavagin’s run petered out as Dion was seeing it out stronger then his challenger. It was at this point that the race was won and Captain Dion galloped all the way to the line to win by a comfortable 1 1/2 length margin.
It was nice to see Captain Dion get back to form and it showed that the break really helped to freshen him up. This win matched his career best off a mark of 85 but he has run well of higher marks so it will be interesting to see what the handicapper does. He has an entry coming up which he would need to carry a penalty in and that could well be a good plan to go there before a winter campaign. We know he handles the all-weather so he could well be aimed at some of the better races over 6f and 7f during the winter months which will keep Mr T A Rahman enjoying his racing before the start of next year’s turf season.