2:10 – Newmarket (July) – COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE BRITISH STALLION STUDS E B F FILLIES´ HANDICAP (DIV I) (CLASS 4) (3yo 0-85) Good 6f
It is impossible to remember how many times a Sir Mark Prescott runner has been bidding for a hat-trick in handicap company, often landing the achievement. What is slightly unusual about Athenian is the trip the 3 year old bay filly is running over. The normal course of events with the yard is to run a horse over the wrong distance and or in the wrong going to obtain a low handicap mark. The horse is then usually markedly stepped up in trip and goes on to run up a winning sequence in the process.
However, Athenian has only ever run over 5 furlongs and 6 furlongs. She ran three times as a 2 year old on the all weather tracks at Kempton and Southwell with her best effort being a 3rd place at Southwell. She was very slowly away on two of her three starts and on her third run in a Maiden she finished well down the field and was never seriously put into the race at any time, but having said that she did appear to have promise over sprint distances.
She was given an initial handicap mark of 61 and she made her seasonal reappearance at Kempton at the end of May. She was ridden completely differently and was up with the pace from the start leading most of the way. She was ridden 2 furlongs out and when challenged around the final furlong she went away and a stayed on strongly winning by 4 lengths. She was turned out under a penalty 7 days later and made her first start on turf at Chepstow. She was again put into a prominent position and was driven along 3 furlongs out, leading at 2 furlongs. She was ridden to assert inside the final furlong and again stayed on strongly to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
She runs over 6 furlongs again today and has now won twice from four runs over the trip. The going at Newmarket is currently Good with rain forecast during the day. Athenian has not run on Good ground before – her Chepstow win was on Good to Soft, but the rain is only going to soften the going and the fact she acts well on the all weather polytrack points to her ability to handle firmer going.
Athenian carries a double penalty for Monday’s win and is now 12lbs higher than she was when she won at Kempton 11 days ago. However she still looks to be progressing and considering the record of her yard in running up handicap sequences her winning run may not be over yet.