Horses To Follow » Aljamaaheer


Aljamaaheer was almost certainly unlucky not to win the Abernant Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday. Slowly away and held up out the back in the early stages of the race, Roger Varian’s colt travelled well behind the even pace that Jamie Spencer set on Hamza. Still second last of the eight runners passing the two-furlong pole, Paul Hanagan decided to go inside the weakening Tropics instead of outside, and that decision may have been the difference between victory and defeat, as he got held up for just a couple of strides passing the furlong pole. Still only fifth and fully four lengths behind the leader at that point, the Dubawi colt picked up impressively from that point. It never really looked like he was going to get to Hamza who, challenged by Es Que Love, ran all the way to the line but, switched towards the outside, Aljamaaheer finished best of all to go down by just a half a length and a short head.

This was still a hugely encouraging run by Aljamaaheer on his first run over six furlongs since he won on his racecourse debut at Yarmouth as a juvenile in October 2011. The re-creation of him as a sprinter is an interesting project. He put up several high-class performances over a mile last season – he was third in the Lockinge Stakes, he was beaten just three parts of a length by Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne and he won the Group 2 Summer Mile at Ascot in July – but he has always been a horse who has shown plenty of pace. As a three-year-old, he was a Jersey Stakes horse at Royal Ascot, not a St James’s Palace Stakes horse.

Hamza was a good winner of the Abernant, but he was the beneficiary of a typically astute ride from Jamie Spencer, who got the fractions right from the front. By contrast, Aljamaaheer ran his race inefficiently, according to Timeform’s split timings. Visually, he looked like an unlucky loser, and there is always the chance that unlucky-looking losers are over-bet the next time they race. However, he probably was actually an unlucky loser. As well as that, he proved that he could be high-class over six furlongs, and this experience, his first run over a distance short of seven furlongs in two and a half years, should bring him on again. He will be of interest if he lines up in the Duke of York Stakes, an obvious next stepping stone for him, and he will be of big interest in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot at a track at which he has run really well on each of his three visits.

It is well worth persevering with the sprinting project, despite Thursday’s defeat. He could still develop into one of the top sprinters in Britain this season.

17th April 2014