Horses To Follow » Alarazi


Alarazi ran a cracker to finish an agonisingly close second in a Class 2 two-mile-one-furlong handicap hurdle at Cheltenham last Saturday. The Lucy Wadham-trained gelding was held up right out the back of the 16-strong field and was still a long way behind Art Professor and Dream Esteem when they set sail for home. Timmy Murphy didn’t seem to be that worried. Keeping Alarazi to the far side, he niggled him into contention before letting him pop the last but he got in a little tight to it and landed awkwardly as Art Professor flew it. On top of that, Art Professor charted a true course up the stands rail and had the benefit of racing on what is usually the fastest of the ground at Cheltenham when the ground is easy and with the rail to help him, while Alarazi had to move over from the far side to challenge. Even so, Venetia Williams’s horse stuck his neck out well and showed a very willing attitude to claw back the deficit and go about a head up before Art Professor was able to just fight back and it was he who had his head all the way down as they flashed past the post together while Alarazi’s head was up.

Despite not winning in 14 starts on the flat since his debut win, Alarazi was a good horse for John Oxx, rated as high as 106 (currently rated 95 in Britain) but he did need easy ground to be at his best. This is actually his second attempt at hurdling as he was chucked in at the deep end into a couple of graded races including the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle two seasons ago where (not surprisingly) he found himself out of his depth. He has returned to the hurdling game this time around after 15 months off the track, this is much more his level. He won on his first start back in a soft ground Leicester novice hurdle despite being a huge drifter in the market. He has been unable to carry the penalty in novice company on his next two runs, but it was no disgrace to finish second to the Cambridgeshire winner Credit Swap back at Leicester last time out, even though that horse hasn’t gone on quite as well as he might have over hurdles since (he probably needs to step up in distance). Alarazi is clearly getting the hang of the hurdling game now though and, being such a highly rated flat horse, could still be very well handicapped despite being put up 8lb to 126 for this fine first-time handicap effort. He is very much one to keep an eye on now, especially when there is cut in the ground. He is only seven, he has run just six times over hurdles, and there could be plenty more to come.

29th January 2011