Excitement builds this time of year as the new flat season is just weeks away. Although you can’t wait to see the older horses back in action, it is now that the juveniles start to take shape. As their work builds up you begin to get an idea of who might be an early type and which ones will be the first to hit the track. Metal Exchange was one of those last year who looked all out an earlier sprinting type but it didn’t quite work out. Thankfully she made up for lost time when taking the 5f Ladbrokes Novice Stakes at Newcastle, on her debut run.
Two year olds are funny animals as they are just babies. This means they can change from day to day and sometimes make you seem as though you are foolish. Metal Exchange, a daughter of Helmet, looked like a real sharp, speedy type who would be hitting the track as one of Kevin’s first 2 yr old runners last year. All seemed to be going to plan and a run looked just around the corner. Like many, many horses before her, Metal Exchange’s work then dipped. Clear signs came to light that she was immature and as time went on she was too weak to do herself justice. Although looking like a real 2 yr old she just didn’t have the frame to carry her. Time was the only option for the filly moving forward and thankfully she had an owner, Mr T A Rahman, who was more than happy to do that.
2018’s turf season came and went so Kevin needed to decide what he would like to do with the filly. Having got her back into work and seeing that she was steadily progressing, there looked to be a chance that Exchange could be ready around the New Year. Sharpening and strengthening with each piece of work, that deadline looked perfect so when 2019 rolled round Kevin decided that the entry book needed studying. The AW is great but some of the tracks can be very difficult for debutantes, with the tight turns and the style of racing. Luckily Newcastle is just down the road and probably the best track to introduce a newcomer so the 5f Novice race was the obvious choice.
On paper the race didn’t look too strong but there was some in form runners due to line up. From what we knew on form it would take a run of around the 70 mark to take the win, based on the handicap ratings of her rivals. Andrew (Midge) Mullen was booked for the ride, looking to make a plan once they jumped from the stalls.
Metal Exchange was slowly away giving Midge immediate work to do. Low in the saddle he bustled her into stride and the filly woke up to latch onto the main body of the field. racing alongside the favourite there was very little to separate all the 8 runners with a very even gallop going on up front. Although slowly away Exchange ended up racing just a few lengths from the leaders through the first furlong.
Inexperience was clear throughout the first couple of furlongs. Metal Exchange wasn’t quite sure what leg to lead on and this caused her to just roll around underneath Midge. She travelled well enough and maintained her position but it was very much a case of learning on the job. The leaders took the field past the 3f marker and still all the runners were within touching distance as the pace just started to wind up. Gently increasing the pace the front trio started to attempt to stretch the race. Passing halfway the tempo change caught Exchange off guard and again she was changing legs as she came under pressure. Midge had to get hold of her to try and get the filly balanced and moving in the right direction.
Passing the 2f marker and now the race really started to heat up. Those on the front end began to lay down their challenges and kicked for the winning post. Exchange maintained her position but inexperience was showing as she was unable to get any closer to the front. Midge had to go for the stick to keep the filly straight but once he gave her a couple of reminders she got back on to the correct lead and woke up to the task in hand. The favourite had raced alongside Exchange throughout the contest but found nothing from the 2f marker, dropping back to the back markers who were also struggling to make an impression. The race split into two and Exchange was kind of stranded between the two groups. Midge was working hard on board, educating and getting his filly in a position to finish the race. She started to get to grips with things and slowly made headway, although she had a good few lengths to find to the leaders.
Moving into the final furlong and it was the second fav, Olympic Spirit who had come out the stronger of the leading trio, forging ahead. Metal Exchange was now picking up a bit stronger and suddenly started to look like she could finish the are well. Picking up one then two of her rivals, the filly grew in confidence passing horses. Midge now realised he could gain the win and went for the stick once more. This helped Exchange to find extra in the final 100 yards. Eating into the leaders advantage, she was beginning to really fly at the death down the centre of the track. It was going to be on the line where the race was decided and it looked as though momentum was on Exchange’s side. In a head bobbing drive Metal Exchange got to the leader in the final strides, sweeping past to take her debut win by just a head.
Metal Exchange has had to wait for her debut run but it proved to be worth it as she overcame inexperience to win. It was evident from the start that she was very green but she recovered well and was always in a position to strike. She showed a very willing attitude, responding to everything that Midge asked of her. It would have been very easy for the filly to be fazed by everything but she stuck to the task and eventually finished the race very well. The stiff 5f was really to her liking although this was only her first run and she will improve for the experience. It is always nice to get the Orange silks of Mr T A Rahman into the winner’s circle and hopefully this is just the start of a promising future.