Horses To Follow » Holberg


Holberg deserves another chance after he was slightly disappointing as favourite for the Group 3 12-furlong September Stakes at Kempton on Saturday. Richard Hills was keen to get Laaheb to the front from his outside draw, and he got a fairly easy lead once he got there, as neither Classic Punch nor Les Fazzani were keen to go on. Holberg settled back in mid division of the field and while he travelled well enough through the race, the pace was always steady and he got caught in a pocket in between and behind horses before the straight. Holberg got outpaced from here as Laaheb, who was kicked on by Richard Hills as they turned for home, opened up a big gap on the field. The Godolphin horse may have had six to seven lengths to make up on Laaheb at that stage, he was never going to get there, but he steadily made ground up the straight, and he was finishing strongest of all at the end, staying on into a clear second place.

Winner of last year’s Queen’s Vase, the steady gallop that developed over the 12 furlongs here was never going to suit Holberg, and in the circumstances he did well to finish second. It was similar case for him on his previous run at Newmarket when he was favourite for the Group 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes, they only really got going four furlongs out and he failed to land a blow.

On his only other run this season, he created a lasting impression when beating Manighar by six lengths on his seasonal debut at Goodwood. He remains a progressive sort, this was only the 11th run of his life and he may be under-rated now off the back of two occasions where he disappointed as favourite. He should also be better over a longer distance, it seems to be quite difficult to get much of a pace in 12-furlong races these days so he may be better off over a longer trip that will bring his stamina into play. His run in last year’s Queen’s Vase is still his only run over a distance in excess of 12 furlongs, so he should have more to give when upped in trip again. The Melbourne Cup is reportedly still a target, and he would not be a forlorn hope in that, but there may be easier options for him closer to home, and he will be interesting wherever he goes.

4th September 2010