New rules now prevent horses from gaining a handicap mark unless they run 3 times or win twice in their first couple of runs. Last Empire had got of the mark impressively at Hamilton and returned to the track to make it a brace of wins when again winning easily in the 6f racingtv.com Novice Stakes.
The daughter of Pivotal returned to action last month after making just one start as a juvenile. The break proved no problem to the 3 yr old as she thrived in soft ground, showing up for most of the way before forging clear. Many of the sire’s progeny do enjoy some juice in the ground so going forward that was something that was in the thinking when looking form races. Unfortunately with no handicap mark the options were limited and so Kevin had plenty of time to study the entry book.
Being a winner over C&D, the race at Hamilton looked perfect for Last Empire and so she was set to travel back to Scotland for her third run. The ground had raced very quick the meeting before but at the declaration stage rain was falling and the ground changed to “Good to Soft”. Danny Tudhope was in the saddle for his retained owner, Clipper Logistics, and was set to take on 7 rivals.
Rain subsided so by the time raceday came around, the ground was described as “Good”. The race did not look the strongest and therefore Last Empire was the strong 4-7 fav, with only one rival close to her in the betting, Delachance. There are no such thing as certainties but it was felt that if Last Empire ran to form then she would take all the beating.
Having raced prominently last time out, Danny took the same approach and kept things simple. Jumping well, Empire was quickly into stride and moved forward towards the stands side. Although away well, Empire didn’t take the overall lead as she settled on the girths of Perfect Charm, who spearheaded the 8 runner field. Delachance followed these through and was just one place behind Last Empire who seemed to once again enjoy the downhill run.
Little happened through the first half of the race as the positions stayed the same. They did begin to inch over towards the stands side rail as they wheeled away down the hill, heading to the dip. Danny allowed his filly to travel and just dropped his hands on her. Last Empire seemed to be coping fine with he slightly quicker ground and she was never far away.
When the field began to bare down on the 2f marker the two fancied runners started to take control. Last Empire travelled into the contest like an odds on shot would be expected to do. The leader began to be ridden along and was struggling to hold the rest at bay. Delachance moved through and the race was beginning to take shape. Danny remained motionless on board and his filly travelled hard held under the stands side rail. It started to look as though Last Empire may just do this on the bridle.
Racing towards the 1f marker and hitting the uphill finish Delachance was hard at work trying to lay down a challenge. Still Danny sat still and Last Empire glided through with around a 1/2 length advantage. Now Danny began to wind his mount up, asking the filly to lengthen her stride which she did without fuss. The lead did not change immediately and Delachance was staying on stoutly.
Danny knew he had the best horse underneath him and felt there was plenty in the tank. The final furlong saw him squeeze the filly along but it did take her a little while to really find her stride. Although in a drive, it was minimal fuss form Danny and once he got Empire balanced and really lengthening she began to assert. Delachance had proven a worthy adversary but couldn’t match the favourite. With 100 yards to run Last Empire began to draw away and once she got into a 1 1/2 length lead she offered Danny the chance to ease up. Once in control she really strode away and in the end won with plenty in hand, taking the spoils by an official 2 1/2 lengths.
This was another fine display from Last Empire who looks like a very promising filly. Although she looked the best horse in the field she still had to do it and and won with plenty in hand. This was only her third run so there is a lot of improvement to come for her. Danny gave the filly a lovely educational ride and it could be the start of a fruitful career. Last Empire looks like a filly who will continue to improve with time, as so many of Pivotal’s progeny do. It is likely that Last Empire will not be over raced this year and could be even better as a four year old. It is great to have the support of owner Steve Parkin and it nice to repay the faith with a nice prospect.