In front of him the two leaders were joined by the black horse. On the inside, a chestnut colt edged towards the rail, and that took his long time battle colleague with him who rolled over to him to continue slugging it out. ‘Go! Yelled the voice. ‘Go’ screamed Raul audibly in reply.
The Ghost Machine got two inches of rein and needed no more. He went forward powerfully, lengthening his stride, up alongside the two horses on his inner within three strides. In front, to his right, Raul saw the jockey on the black horse change his whip hand and land a blow to the horse’s left flank. A second sense told him nothing else was finishing behind, no sound of snorts, shouts or imminent hooves.
For the first time he pushed. He crouched lower in the saddle and pushed and felt the click of the gear change. Within two strides he was past the two horses on his inside, switched his whip to his right hand and gave The Ghost a flick. Nostrils flared, The Ghost took a lungful of air and stretched out. Off the leash, the thoroughbred changed his leading leg and surged forwards, edging onto the running rail. On his outside, the black horse plunged its head down in response to its rider’s hands pushing urgently up its neck and the two horses were suddenly nose to nose. A stride of total unison, and then The Ghost opened up.