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Sir Percy or Horatio Nelson, who's the best?
by Handicappers / Globeform
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Sir Percy beat Horatio Nelson in a close finish to the Dewhurst Stakes (G1) last year. Horatio Nelson was unlucky in running and Sir Percy retained his unbeaten record.

That was broken next time he ran though, as he found George Washington too good in the 2000 Guineas (G1) - when Horatio Nelson was well behind.

Recent betting moves suggest that the Irish trained colt will get his revenge on Sir Percy at Epsom - but how realistic is that way of thinking?

Sir Percy ran a good race on his seasonal debut – when finishing second to George Washington in the 2000 Guineas (G1) at Newmarket. After being beaten by the winner’s superior acceleration, he was staying on again the last 100 yards and beaten no more than 2 ½ lengths, with Olympian Odyssey 1 ½ lengths behind him in third and Araafa – the eventual Irish 2000 Guineas winner – back in fourth place. It’s been a case of ‘so far so good’ for the Guineas form, which has stood up well, and Sir Percy goes to Epsom with a good chance. One does get the feeling, however, that he is more of a 1 1/4 –mile performer and may not stay the Derby distance. His sire was a top class miler but there is stamina on his dam’s side and maybe Sir Percy will stay the trip. If he does, he will beat most of these rivals. He ran to GF 116+ in the Guineas, not far behind his best juvenile form, when he produced Globeform 120 to beat Horatio Nelson in the 7-furlong Dewhurst Stakes (G1).

He completed a perfect first season as he gained his fourth win from as many starts in the Dewhurst. He may have been slightly fortunate to keep his unbeaten record, as Horatio Nelson suffered a terrible run and was closing iin fast, but too late, to lose by only a neck. Some handicappers had Horatio Nelson ahead of Sir Percy but on their Dewhurst running it makes more sense to rate them as equals. True, Horatio Nelson was stopped twice in his run, but it is impossible to guess how much more Sir Percy would have been able to find if the two had drawn level, and one should always bear in mind that although a horse that is ‘stopped in his run’ loses ground he is also saving energy. Sir Percy was six places – and 4 ¼ lengths – in front of Horatio Nelson in the Guineas, where the latter was a big disappointment in the paddock. True, his trainer had warned that Horatio Nelson would be needing the run, but the son of Danehill seems not to have grown at all since last season. He is very small. That may not be a negative factor at Epsom but was this horse simply a ‘typical 2-year-old’ that will struggle to hold his place in the top flight at three?

Kieren Fallon has chosen to ride Horatio Nelson, so one must respect his chances as, if he regains his best form, he has a winning chance. He showed good speed last year but his dam, Imagine, won the Oaks and Horatio Nelson might relish the Derby distance.

Neverteless, Sir Percy may have just as good a chance of more Grade One glory as Horatio Nelson, who had the more taxing juvenile campaign. While Sir Percy was coming off a two and a half-month rest when they met in the Dewhurst, Horatio Nelson had won the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (G1) at Longchamp 13 days earlier. He beat Opera Cape by a cheeky looking 1 ½ lengths in Paris, and the margin between them was exactly the same as Opera Cape took third in the Dewhurst.

Which one to prefer? Well, it must be Sir Percy. He has done nothing wrong in his career. But for running into an explosive George Washington at the Rowley Mile in May, he would have been an unbeaten Guineas winner. Do you think he would be available at 7-1 if that was the case? He is an excellent each-way bet.

Published: 2006-06-02 06:00:01

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