Horses To Follow » Ningxai


Ningxai was a little unlucky in the one-mile three-year-olds’ handicap at Naas on Wednesday evening. Held up through the early stages of the race by Colin Keane, Ger Lyons’ horse travelled well into the home straight. Keane angled him out on the run to the two-furlong pole, with a view to getting racing room towards the outside where he could deliver a challenge. However, as he did, Kevin Manning was delivering Algonquin with his run down the outside and moving inwards towards Gregoria. The net result was that Gregoria moved to her left and closed the door on Ningxai, and Keane had to snatch up in order to avoid clipping heels. Even as it was, Ningxai stumbled a little, lost significant ground and momentum and was relegated back to second last place.

His winning chance disappeared in that manoeuvre, but the element of this performance that impressed most was the manner in which the Fast Company gelding finished off his race. His rider wasn’t overly hard on him when it was obvious that he couldn’t win, but, moved back towards the outside and under just a hands-and-heels ride, he moved up nicely to take fourth place, finishing about two and a half lengths behind the winner.

It is impossible to know how Ningxai would have fared had he enjoyed a better run through the race. It is difficult to say that he would have beaten the winner, who actually came past him on the run to the furlong pole, but the winner’s momentum was up at that point, and Ger Lyons’ horse could have put it up to him had he enjoyed a clear passage. He would almost certainly have been third at worst, and he probably would have at least challenged the winner. That would have been a good performance, the winner is a highly progressive individual who was winning for the second time in two runs this season, having landed his maiden at Dundalk last October, when he beat last month’s Britannia Handicap third Sacrificial by a short head.

Ningxai himself is progressive. Raced just one last year as a juvenile, he got off the mark on his second attempt this season, easily landing a maiden at Cork at the end of May over a mile. This was another step forward on that, and it was just his fourth race ever. He still retains plenty of scope for progression. His mark of 80 for this, his handicap debut, is a mark that is well within his capabilities, and he should be able to win a handicap off that type of mark now before moving up in grade.

8th July 2015