Horses To Follow » Markab


Markab continued his progression this season by putting up a huge performance to take the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday. Drawn in stall 14, he raced with the stands side group, always close to the rail, and to the head of proceedings. He showed a terrific turn of foot two furlongs out to take it up on his own on the near side and challenge Lady Of The Dessert who picked up really well to take it up on the far side. Then, despite drifting to his left across the track over to Brian Meehan’s filly inside the final furlong, he was well in charge at the finish, going on to win by over a length.

Markab may have been even better than he looked here. As well as coming clear when winning the race overall, he beat his own group by six lengths. The horses that raced on the far side finished second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth, and although that is most likely because that group held all the main contenders and all the early pace, it still meant that Markab had to do a lot of his running on his own. He even moved over to the far side in the closing stages, conceding some ground as he did.

There is every chance that he could still be well-underrated next time, a seven-year-old sprinter who has raced 30 times and who finished well down the field in last year’s Portland Handicap off a mark of 104, but he seems to be a hugely improved horse this season, and this was a huge performance, a career-best. Mentioned here previously after his run in the King’s Stand where he was just touched off by Equiano after he came down the slowest part of the track in what was his first ever Group 1 race, his run prior to this behind Regal Parade at Newbury can be excused, as the rain got into the ground before the race and he needs a faster surface over six furlongs. He apparently goes to the Prix de l’Abbaye next. Five furlongs is probably on the sharp side for him, and Longchamp’s five furlongs is a fast five furlongs, but he ran a cracker in the King’s Stand and, if he arrives in Paris in this form, he will be a big player.

4th September 2010