Arguably the sprinting division is the most competitive in racing, throwing up differing results when the same horses take each other on. Why is this, well one mistake can cost you the race. It is a helter skelter ride lasting around 60 secs, a wrong move or unlucky break and the race is over. So when Pennsylvania Dutch completed an early season hat-trick everyone was over the moon to see him back to form. He showed that he is far from finished with his winning and made it victory number 4 this season when taking the 6f Ed Chamberlin Classic Golf Day Handicap at Goodwood.
What a difference 12 months make. Last year Dutch was proving difficult to win with, hitting the woodwork but then throwing in below par efforts. This year he is thriving and there looks no end to his improvement. Having been bought back in 2017 at the October HIT sales as a potential improver, Pennsylvania Dutch is really starting to show the kind of form that he has always threatened to show.
Having completed a hat-trick in the space of 16 days, Dutch saw his handicap mark rise from 70 to 85. This meant he took a step up in grade last time out but failed to maintain his winning streak. People were quick to question him, saying the handicapper may have caught up but one below par effort does not right the script for the rest of the season. Kevin got the 5yo back, looked to freshen him up and find the right race to follow. Whatever he did next would give the answers.
Goodwood was the chosen venue and the race offered a slight step down in grade. Having seen Dutch jumping slowly in his last couple of runs Kevin decided to take off the eye-shields that had worked so well through the early season. Sometimes horses get cute to these things and there was a feeling that the headgear was now having the opposite affect of what was wanted. Sean Davis has enjoyed a fine start to the season and 2 of his wins have come on board Pennsylvania Dutch so he was booked again for the ride as the pair took on 9 rivals.
On his best behaviour Pennsylvania Dutch jumped well and was immediately on terms. Goodwood is a very quick track and quite a few of the runners were keen to move forward to make the running. This led to a strong early pace, so Sean let Dutch find his feet and travel where he was happy. As the field made a beeline for the rail it left Dutch to race 3/4 of the way down the field but only around 4 lengths off the lead, although running more towards the centre of the track.
Running downhill the field were quickly through the first half of the race and moving past the 3f marker. Even this far out there were some of the jockeys beginning to work and one was Sean. Pennsylvania Dutch is a big, long striding sprinting so you cannot go from 1st gear to 6th gear. Knowing the horse Sean wanted to get him wound up and so although he was off the bridle, it was not something unusual to see. They began to race between the 2f and 3f pole which would suit Dutch if he was good enough on the day.
Racing down the centre Dutch had moved through but those towards the stands side were not weakening. Although in with a chance he was still down by a couple of lengths and the final 1 1/2f would call for a strong finish. It was hard to call a winner at this point with the majority of the field looking like they were in with a chance. They were now spread across the track and a blanket could be thrown over the entire field.
Sean was in full drive moving inside the final furlong and his mount had taken to the front. The race had quickly changed with 4 of the runners just edging away from the rest. Pennsylvania Dutch probably just held the advantage from Fantasy Keeper but he was closely pursued down the centre. One thing for sure was that he was certainly giving it his all and everything Sean asked for he was getting. It was set for a real ding dong battle as Dutch looked to fend them all off. Fantasy Keeper now shifted over and Iconic Knight was finishing fast to join Dutch, Blaine and Youkan down the centre. Pennsylvania Dutch stuck his neck out and was not for passing. Having taken the lead he was not surrendering it and even edged to 1/2 length lead. There was no time for a response from his rivals and this move even allowed Sean to ease down in the final few strides, shortening the winning margin to just a neck.
What can you say about Pennsylvania Dutch this season. Some horses never manage four wins in their career never mind in the space of 2 months. It was clear that he was talented and coming into this season he was dangerously well handicapped. There was always a feeling that if he could straighten out his little quirks then a winning sequence could easily be on the cards. All the headgear was removed this time and he showed a very willing attitude throughout the race. Winning off a mark of 84 Pennsylvania Dutch may well run under a penalty before the handicapper has chance to change his mark. He has been a star this season and there is no reason to think that the improvement is over just yet.