Horses To Follow » Imbongi


Imbongi was a massive drifter in the market before the seven-furlong Group 3 race at Newmarket on Saturday, but the South African belied the drift to post a taking performance and win well. Settled well just behind the pace, he made nice progress on the near side under Kevin Shea, took it up at the furlong pole and kept on strongly all the way to the line to hold the promising Godolphin recruit, the only three-year-old in the race, Huntdown, at bay. A dual Grade 2 winner in his native South Africa, Imbongi performed with a lot of credit in two of his three runs at Nad Al Sheba last spring. On his debut there, he stayed on really strongly at the end of a seven-furlong handicap to just go down by a short head to Hatta Fort, who got to within a length of JJ The Jet Plane on his subsequent start in the desert. On Imbongi’s subsequent start there, he was actually sent off as favourite to beat Gladiatorus in a Group 2 contest but, unsurprisingly, couldn’t get near that trail-blazer. On his final start at Nad Al Sheba, in another Group 2 contest over nine furlongs, he had no luck in-running but finished well to take fourth spot behind last year’s Hong Kong Cup runner-up Balius and in front of Japanese supermare Vodka, who, similarly, had no real racing room.

Between Dubai and Newmarket, Imbongi took in the Group 1 Champions Mile in Hong Kong, in which he got to within two lengths of Sight Winner. He is a high class international perrformer, but it was impossible to fancy him for his British debut, given how weak he was in the market beforehand. Saturday’s race was obviously just a sighter for more lucrative prizes later in the summer, and the fact that he won the race is a huge positive. The time of the race was good, the fastest comparative time of the day by some way, the form is fairly solid and the manner in which Imbongi quickened and stayed on up the hill was visually impressive. All the indications are that he is probably capable of significantly better than this, and he may be even better over a mile. The Summer Mile at Ascot on 11th July is apparently the next target for Imbongi, and he will be of huge interest in that. It is not usually a really hot contest for a Group 2, and it is a race that Imbongi’s trainer Mike de Kock won last year with Archipenko, who had a similar preparation to Imbongi in that he went to Hong Kong after competing at the Dubai Carnival. The only difference was that Archipenko hadn’t had the benefit of a prep run in Britain before the Summer Mile. Imbongi should benefit from that, and he could be the one for the Summer Mile.

27th June 2009