Horses To Follow » Ouqba


Ouqba was visually really impressive in landing the Free Handicap at Newmarket on Thursday. He adopted a prominent position early and settled nicely, unlike his main rivals Marine Boy and Art Connoisseur, and he showed a really nice turn of foot into The Dip to go clear, keeping on well all the way to the line. The time of the race was only marginally slower than the hugely impressive-looking Fantasia’s time in the Nell Gwyn a half an hour later.

Ouqba was busy last season as a juvenile, running eight times, but he did finish fourth behind Westphalia in the Champagne Stakes, and he was an impressive winner of a lesser-class contest at Salisbury over six furlongs before he finished down the field in the Dewhurst. However, reports before this, his seasonal debut, suggested that he had improved during the winter, and this performance seemed to confirm as much. He is not in the Guineas – he may not get a mile – and it is interesting that he is entered in the Golden Jubilee as well as in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. However, the race for him at the Royal meeting may be the Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs, and he could be a leading player in that.

15th April 2009