Bogart, Brando, Tommy Taylor, Astaire, all these have carried the yellow and purple silks of Angie Bailey to great success in the sprinting division. With two group 1 winners to their name, Angie Bailey and Peter Tingey have become a regular sight in the winner’s enclosure at the big meetings. Last year they tried to unearth another one when securing a Zebedee colt for £100,000. It was a good juvenile season but Savalas returned as a 3 yr old to win smartly at Wolverhampton and take the 5f Renault All New Megane Handicap.
The breeze up sales are almost here and it is has been a great source of classy winners for Kevin. Savalas looked exactly that when he blasted down Town Moor. When he continued to show this at home it looked as though the juvenile could be one for the big days. Starting off with a couple of good efforts in decent Novice events, Savalas then earned his first win at Thirsk at the third time of asking. It looked as though this would be the springboard into bigger and better things for the grey. Kevin was flirting between whether to take a big step up in grade or go into handicap company. Thanks to quite a nice opening mark it was decided to go the handicap route. Unfortunately 3 subsequent runs didn’t yield the results expected which was a little bit of a head scratcher.
Over the winter Kevin made the decision to geld Savalas in the belief that it was possible he wasn’t quite fully matured. When he arrived back at the yard the procedure had the desired affect with Savalas looking physically stronger and also a lot more mature in his attitude. With his work matching all of this connections were keen to get him back out and it was clear that the now 3 yr old would be ready early enough. Current weather conditions have rendered most tracks racing on very testing conditions or even having to abandon racing. Kevin has always though that Savalas would be better suited to a sound surface, despite winning on good to soft, so looked more towards the all-weather. When the option of Wolverhampton came up it was the most obvious choice and so Savalas would return in the Midlands.
It was a small field declared for the class 4 event and it would be a drop in grade for Savalas as he bid to start his season in style. Big Time Maybe was a horse who set the standard for the race due to recent form but when he was withdrawn it left just 4 runners to line up. It was an open looking affair and it felt as though whichever 3 yr old had done best over the winter was the one to side with. Kevin felt Savalas had improved so confidence was high. Tom Eaves has ridden the grey in all but one of his races and was in the saddle again, looking to kick start the partnership’s season off in the right way.
Four runner race over 5f doesn’t really tend to be too much of a tactical affair. Although jumping slightly to his right hand side, Savalas was quickly away and immediately into stride. His movement across meant that the favourite Kyllachy Dragon couldn’t get through so had to settle in behind. Up to speed, Savalas held a length advantage but did want to stay away from the rail, which did give the fav a clear look if the gap was there come the business end of the race.
As expected the pace was strong and quickly Savalas took the quartet into bend, all racing within a length of the horse in front. It looked as though the grey was enjoying his first try on the Tapeta surface as he skipped along in front, travelling well and moving smoothly. Although pressed he wasn’t tackled for the lead so Tom did have the luxury of dictating from the front. Heading into the bend first, Savalas could get on the right lead and moved across to the rail, taking the shorter route.
There was very little change throughout the race really and as the 4 runners came off the bend they had just over 2f to run. The order remained the same and with Savalas still holding sway in front Tom tried to use this advantage. Tightening up his grip on the reins, Tom just posed a little question to his mount. From this Savalas injected some more pace from the front and it had an immediate effect. Now his rivals had to match and better this move to overcome the deficit than opened up. Moving into a couple of lengths lead, Savalas has made a positive move.
Pressure told throughout the field and the favourite was not making any real headway. The outsider of the four had been sat last throughout and seemingly out of the race and with the fav looking one paced it felt as though only Wings Of The Rock could turn the tables on Savalas. Tom wasn’t for messing about in front and got into his drive 1 1/2f from home, keen to stamp his authority on the race. Again Savalas moved further clear but at the same time he began to edge to his right. Fortunately he was far enough clear of the second placed horse to prevent any interference. Tom wasn’t having any of it and pulled his stick through to his right hand, delivered a quick back hand to prompt Savalas. The grey realised what this meant and began to run more true to his line.
It was clear that Savalas had set sail from the moment he quickened up but Tom was keeping him up to his work. Now straightened up he powered forward to the line and it was a case of how far. He hadn’t seen a rival since leaving the stalls and Savalas ran out a comfortable 2 length winner, under an almost hands and heels ride.
First runs can tell you so much about the season ahead and Savalas has certainly started in the perfect fashion. He was well regarded last year and this win has ensured a step back in the right direction. Obviously it was a small field and if he is to compete in better races then he will need to improve but he could only do what he did. He is entitled to come on for the run as he did still look like he was carrying a little condition. The better surface did look to help him as he is such a good moving horse who skates across the ground. Going forward the handicapper will obviously reassess his mark of 79 but there could be plenty more to come. With his powerful travelling style there is no reason to think that he couldn’t be as affective over 6f. It was the ideal start and hopefully there is another nice sprinter to don the yellow and purple.