Horses To Follow » Karabak


Conqueror of Mahonia over two miles at Cheltenham in December on his previous start, Karabak ran out a really impressive winner of the finale at Ascot on Saturday, the two-and-a-half-mile novices’ hurdle, despite the fact that he was giving lots of weight away all round.

Time may prove that this was a hot race, with quite a few lofty reputations coming into the race. Kangaroo Court, who had beaten Friday’s Catterick winner Honest John by 20 lengths at Doncaster on his previous run, was well thought of and was backed down to favouritism in front of Karabak, while Somersby had won well at Kempton in November and was also the subject of glowing reports. The ‘right’ horses were in contention up the side of the course before the home turn, Karabak, Kangaroo Court, Somersby, Dreamy Sweeney from the Henderson yard and Our Bomber Harris from the Nicholls yard, but Karabak just drew clear over the final two flights.

It is not apparent why Karabak was so weak in the market. Perhaps it was simply due to the strength of opinion in favour of some of his rivals, perhaps it was down to the defeat of Mahonia in a race at Haydock earlier on Saturday. Whatever the reason for the drift, in hindsight it wasn’t well founded. This was Karabak’s most impressive performance to date, he is continually improving, and he is a real player among the top novice hurdlers this season. His debut performance over hurdles at Ascot in November, when he was beaten just a length by Mad Max, just looks better and better as time goes on. He has run just three times over hurdles now, and there is almost certainly more to come. He is proven at Cheltenham, and he has to be a major contender for the Ballymore Properties Hurdle at the Festival. Best odds of 9/1 are fair.

© The Irish Field, 24th January, 2009