Horses To Follow » Labaik
Labaik surprised a few people with the performance that he put up to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, not just because he started off his race with the rest of the field – it was his first time to start in his last four attempts – but with the strength with which he finished.
Gordon Elliott’s horse started off well here for Jack Kennedy, sweet as a nut, and he travelled well in rear. His hurdling wasn’t always fluent, but that was understandable, it was effectively just his third race over hurdles. He travelled through his race well in rear, made nice progress down the hill, travelled well into the home straight and hit the front, still travelling well, on the run to the final flight. He stayed on well up the run-in to beat the highly-regarded Melon by over two lengths, and Melon came eight lengths clear of the third horse River Wylde. It looks like Melon is every bit as good as they said he was before this race, without Labaik in the race he would have been an eight-length winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and we would be talking Champion Hurdle talk. It’s just that Labaik is better. Or he was better on the day anyway.
They didn’t go a great gallop through the race, so Labaik had to make his ground into a quickening pace. He probably did really well to win as well as he did, given that he was held up through the early stages of the race off a moderate pace. Six of the first seven home raced in mid-division or better, and three of them raced up with the pace. Labaik was the only horse who was able to get into the race from the rear.
Also, the winning time was good, 0.17secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par, which was impressive for novices off a moderate gallop.
This was effectively just Labaik’s third run over hurdles, he has won all three of his races in which he has started. He has always been highly-regarded, there has never been any doubt about his talent, more about his willingness to start his races. Interestingly, though, once he starts he does go well through his race. He travelled well through the For Auction Hurdle at Navan in November before showing a nice turn of foot to beat Mick Jazz and Le Martalin. If you could rely on him to start off his races, there would be no telling how high he could go, and it may be that he will be more willing to start now after this win. It had to have been a positive experience for him.
14th March 2017