Progression is the process of developing and this is never more a truer statement than with 2yo’s. You start with a blank slate and see where they can go, hopefully reaching their full potential. Two Cop Bop has improved each time he stepped foot on the racecourse and did so once more when winning the 6f Stay At Our On-Site Nursery Handicap at Hamilton.
Gelded before he made his debut, Two Cop Bop needed to hit the track and learn about the job that would be expected of him. Having done everything at home the juvenile would need to feel the energy of a real race to see where he could go. Getting him to relax was the most important education he could get and it would take him a couple of runs to learn this. After a midfield finish on debut he then stepped up to finish 3rd on his second start. Both runs came at Hamilton and it would be back to Scotland for his third run too, trying handicap company for the first time. Sticking to the bare minimum of 5f he settled beautifully, maybe too well. Two Cop Bop travelled nicely but then couldn’t reel in the winner late on, who got first run on him. Although he didn’t win it was a very impressive run as now Two Cop Bop was doing things the right way round.
Kevin was desperate to step the gelding up and his next run would be over 6f, again at Hamilton. His mark of 68 looked fair and his progressive profile seemed to suggest he could be better. There was only a small field of 6 for the race and only one of the runners had a win to their name. Julie Johnston came into the race with 2 wins to her name but would be conceding 8lbs to Two Cop Bop. The punters couldn’t see her doing that and it was Two Cop Bop who would be sent off favourite at a warm even money. Kevin Stott took the ride for the first time.
It would be interesting to see if Two Cop Bop would relax again over the longer trip. He did just that once the stalls opened and was helped with Julie Johnston racing keenly early on and setting a strong pace. Hamilton often plays to those racing against the rail and the field immediately began heading over towards the stands side. Two Cop Bop travelled nicely in the hands of Stott but he knew almost knew the Scottish track by heart now. Racing downhill Julie Johnston continued to take a pull but hadn’t overdone it as they raced through the first furlong.
The field were well bunched together as they all managed to make their way to the stands side rail. There was no change in the order as the rain softened ground kicked up and flew out in the wake of the 7 runners. Two Cop Bop was in a nice rhythm but even at this early stage Kevin was keeping his eyes peeled for any opening. Tracking his main rival was ideal but it would mean that he could be trapped for room or worse still, be in direct line if Julie Johnston began to fade away and fall back.
They hurtled to the halfway point and having just slowed up a little, the leader strode on again as the track flattens out. Julie Johnston opened up into a 1 1/2 length lead and was making her best way home. Kevin still had his wits about him as he just niggled Two Cop Bop along. This got him to stretch out a little, keeping tabs on the leader but also allowing Stott to angle out of the pocket he was in. Racing down towards the 2f marker and only the leading pair were left travelling on the bridle. Two Cop Bop moved out of the leader’s slipstream and came hard on the bridle once more. Stott now had a clear path to have a crack at the leader once the time came.
Two Cop Bop and Julie Johnston both set sail for home over 1 1/2f from home and the pair started to lengthen. The move wasn’t emphatic to begin with and the pair would have a rival tag along but this wouldn’t last. Kevin was asking his mount to stretch out, changing his hands and driving him along. Although animated in the saddle it was all hands and heels. Two Cop Bop pulled up to the girths of the leader and loomed large but Julie Johnston still looked full of running herself.
Passing the 1f pole and both of the leading jockeys went full tilt. The race was in the balance and now it was game on. As Two Cop Bop moved up to join the leader she found again to try and pull clear. Two Cop Bop just rolled close to his rival but Kevin quickly grabbed hold of his reins, getting the gelding to change leads. This saw Two Cop Bop quicken up and in a couple of strides moved alongside the leader again. Now he had momentum and was striding out. There was only 100 yards to run and the lead now changed with Two Cop Bop snatching it away and looking strong. Hitting the rising ground he began to assert, powering up the hill and thriving over the new trip. Two Cop Bop put a nice 1 3/4 lengths between himself and Julie Johnston to secure his first career win.
The new trip was exactly what Two Cop Bop needed and he was powerful at the line. Now that he has learnt to settle, Two Cop Bop is doing things the right way round and is improving with racing. He travelled smoothly but quickened up nicely, putting the race to bed before seeing out the 6f well. It does look as though he could be better next year with time to grow and strengthen. This could well be his last run of the year and Two Cop Bop could head off for a holiday now.