Horses To Follow » Spifer


Spifer has always been highly regarded by his trainer Luca Cumani, he is a horse with a lot of raw potential, and he is starting to get the hang of things now. He threw away a race at the Newmarket July Festival by drifting badly left close home having seemingly had the race in bag, and he did a similar thing here, although not as badly.

This was the first running of the £150,000 Ladbrokes Mobile Heritage Handicap, and it looked a competitive race beforehand. They went only a steady gallop, with the result that the field was well bunched as they turned into the home straight. Spifer was well back throughout, only ever a couple of horses away from last place, which isn’t usually where you want to be off a slow pace, especially at Ascot, and so he had a lot to do in the short home straight as the sprint for home developed. Jean-Pierre Guillambert pulled him to the outside and initially looked to get through between Halfsin and Parlour Games, before having to switch him outside Parlour Games, making his ground widest of all. He picked up strongly, and it seemed as though he was going to get there before he edged a little to his left, as he had done to a greater extent at Newmarket. He had to be straightened up, and even then he only just failed to catch the useful and well-backed Barbican.

The sedate early pace really was against Spifer here. The winner, third and fourth had all raced in the first four or five throughout, and Spifer, as well as attempting to make his ground right from the back, had to run wide to do so. Even at that, if he had kept straight all the way to the line, he probably would have won.

This run marks him down as a horse with a big future. Kieren Fallon chose to ride Cumani’s other horse in the race, Fulgur here rather than Spifer, but the choice must have been a marginal one, Fulgur did have the proven form in big handicaps, having beaten Mijhaar over 10 furlongs in the big three-year-old handicap at the July Festival. While Fulgur was even more disadvantaged by the pace, as he was held up behind Spifer, he made little headway in the home straight. By contrast, Spifer impressed with the amount of ground he was able to make up.

Cumani has not made any secret of the regard with which he holds the son of Motivator, and the horse can go on from this now. It is encouraging that he was nowhere near as errant as he had been at Newmarket – he was right on the outside here and could have gone much further to his left than he did. He is probably still immature and still learning, and this run will have helped him along considerably. He was racing off a mark of 88 here, and the handicapper has raised him 3lb, which is fair.

His dam is from the family of Zarkava, he is out of the Kahyasi mare Zarawa, making him a half-brother to Plymouth Rock, who stays beyond two miles, and to Big Eared Fran, who won over two and a half miles over hurdles, so he should stay further than a mile and half in due course. This trip is fine for him at present and he is very much one to note for the rest of the season and for next year.

3rd September 2011