Time is a great thing for horses, it can allow weak ones to strengthen and mature, inexperienced ones to learn about the game, sickly ones to build up their immune system and become a stronger animal. As a juvenile moves from 2 years old to 3 years you see so much change at home but it is when they take to the track where they really show how they have developed. Rutherford was a decent 2 year old, shaping nicely in three maidens and showing plenty of promise. Surely a win was going to come sooner rather than later and Rutherford shed her maiden tag at the second time of asking in 2017 when making all in the 7f 32Red.com Fillies Maiden Stakes at Newcastle.
Having come into this season with a good level of form, Rutherford came to hand early and headed to Wolverhampton looking to get off the mark. She was well supported and sent of the 8-11fav, seemingly looking like a “good thing”. She ran very well, travelling smoothly throughout the contest and kicking for home in the straight. Unfortunately she succumbed to a race fit rival, fining the final furlong just a little too much and getting tired when the winner quickened up. Although the punters would have been disappointed, Kevin wasn’t and knew his filly would strip a lot better for the race so next time out she would be a very tough nut to crack.
Keeping an eye out for fillies maidens, Kevin earmarked Newcastle for her next outing. The track should suit more than the tight, sharper Wolverhampton and so she was declared for the 7f contest with plenty of confidence. On paper it looked like a perfect opportunity for Rutherford, she had the best form and one of the main dangers was an unraced and unknown type.
Shane Gray had been in the saddle for the previous two runs and kept the ride again, donning the yellow and purple silks of Angie Bailey. Feeling he was on the best horse there was only one tactic in mind and that was to be positive. to be fair if there was any other way of riding Rutherford then she would have changed that as she was very quickly out of the stalls, taking a length out of the field when jumping into the lead. This set her up perfectly and she got into her stride immediately, allowing Shane to drop his hands on her withers. Rutherford was at the point of the field, leading the 5 strong field through the early stages.
The race wasn’t really too exciting in terms a viewing spectacle. Nothing really changed from start to finish, with Rutherford powering along at the head of affairs. The rest of her rivals filtered in behind and were in a couple of pairs, tracking the favourite. Rutherford was going a nice, even gallop and Shane was happy to let her bowl along in front. The order never changed throughout the race and Rutherford saw nothing but daylight.
In her last race Rutherford had enjoyed a similar role, although her nearest rival was always a little bit closer. Some may have looked back at this and been worried but Shane was confident that he was now sat on a race sharp filly. By halfway the two outsiders were struggling along and obviously were not going to have a say on the final outcome of the race. Rutherford was still going strong and Shane just allowed her a little more rein, letting the filly stretch out. Her two nearest challenger were also her two biggest dangers in the market and had to respond to increase in the tempo.
From the 3f marker to the 2f marker the pace quickened up and it was only Rutherford who was still travelling on the bridle. Dusky Maid and Harbour Siren both closed the gap on the chestnut but were progressively working harder and harder. Inside the 2f marker and heading on towards the final furlong Shane had to make the decision of when to kick for home. It was just before the 1f pole that he got behind the filly and got into his drive. Rutherford did quicken up but it wasn’t devastating initially. She took some winding up before the gap to the second began to increase. Once top gear was found, Rutherford powered away, lengthening and quickening with every yard. The further she went the better she was getting and won easily under a hands and heels ride. Crossing the line Rutherford held a 2 length advantage although it could have been far more.
Most people saw this as a perfect opportunity for Rutherford and she duly delivered with aplomb. Shane kept it simple and rode her like she was the best which evidently she was. It was an impressive performance and Rutherford saw out every yard of the trip, looking as though a step up in trip would not inconvenience her. It was great to get the first win of 2017 for Angie Bailey and Pete Tingey as they have plenty to forward to this year with a strong team ready to don the yellow and purple. Rutherford is still a work in progress and she will continue to improve, she is very interesting and looks set for a good year ahead.