Pennsylvania Dutch looked a very bright prospect just a couple of seasons ago. Things didn’t quite work out so when he headed to sales Kevin snapped him up, hoping that a change of scenery could see him bounce back to his best. Unfortunately it didn’t happen last year despite some near misses. It only took one run of 2019 for Dutch to make amends for a dry 2018 as he made a winning return in the 6f Debbie Stephenson Birthday Celebration Handicap at Thirsk.
Quirky can be used to describe the 5yr old who would jump awkwardly from the stalls leaving himself with plenty of work to do. From there he could travel powerfully and finish like a train, but inevitably it was too little too late. It was clear that he had the ability but just wasn’t giving himself the best chance of utilising his attributes. Unfortunately a change of tactics wasn’t really an option last year as he wouldn’t settle in daylight so it proved to be a very frustrating year.
Over the pre season Kevin tried a new bit of headgear for the gelding. Eyeshields were applied to relax Dutch and they looked to have a positive affect on him. With this in mind they would be kept on when he returned to the track. Now off a lowly mark of 70, Pennsylvania Dutch had plenty of options but Kevin opted for the opening meeting at Thirsk. Typically a competitive and open looking race awaited with 19 runners lining up for the contest. If the new headgear was to work then Dutch would take all the beating but he proved many times before that not all is straight forward with him.
Sam James has been riding out through the winter and was given the ride. From stall 12 Pennsylvania Dutch had the break of the stalls and when they jumped off this caused a handful of runners to stick to the far side. Dutch jumped smartly and was immediately into stride. Going well Sam didn’t want to break his stride so allowed the gelding to race where he was happy, surprisingly towards the head of affairs. The lead was in the hands of the far side but Pennsylvania Dutch led the other group towards the centre of the track. By the time they had run through the first furlong most of the runners had joined the main body in the centre, leaving just 3 on the far side.
Dutch was going great guns and seemingly enjoying himself with clear daylight in front of him. Rumshak was forcing the issue which meant that the pace was high. Moving down towards halfway those 3 who had raced over the far side were soon under pressure and looked to be toiling. It was Dutch and Rumshak who held a clear advantage in front with a break of just over a couple of lengths to the chasing pack.
Between the 3f and 2f marker Dutch really poured it on and soon had his rivals under pressure to try and reel him in. Much of his running style had been to travel hard on the bridle before going for a spurt late on. This time around the instructions were to wind it up before using his finish. Sam started to niggle away moving to the final couple of furlongs. Shifting through the gears, Dutch was lengthening and increasing the tempo which his rivals were struggling to match.
Although he had been working away, Sam had yet to go for the finish yet and was probably surprised to yet see a rival. Dutch was edging further clear as he built up ahead of steam. The two most fancied runners in the race, Black Salt (Fav) and Molls Memory (2nd Fav), were the two who were coming from out of the pack to try and reel in the long time leader. Sam was still waiting and he was still holding on to his final push.
Pennsylvania Dutch passed the 1f marker with a a couple of lengths lead. His two main dangers were now in full flow and beginning to inch into the lead. Now it was time for Sam to go for the line and he got lower in the saddle to get one final kick from his mount. Dutch found more coming off the bridle and maintained his advantage. It was now just a case of who could see out the last 150 yards the best. If he wanted to chuck in the towel then now would be the time but Dutch had a better idea. Allowing his rivals to get closer he responded by finding more and more under pressure. Every time the lead closed, Dutch found. In the final 50 yards he really stuck his head down and galloped away from his rivals. Crossing the line he earned a comfortable 1 1/4 length win.
Pennsylvania Dutch has been a long time in the wilderness but this was certainly a step back in the right direction. The eye shields look to have really helped the 5yo as he settled nicely despite having no cover throughout the contest. Sam said that he felt as though they were going no pace at all until he saw nothing able to go with him. Obviously Dutch is very well handicapped off his old form so any rise the handicapper gives him should not be a problem. Hopefully this new found attitude can remain as that is the only thing that could hold him back.