Horses To Follow » Markab


Markab gained the big handicap win that his talent deserves when he landed the Great St Wilfrid at Ripon on Saturday. Fast away from stall 10, Pat Cosgrave decided to stick towards the near side with him, which was a strange decision given that he was drawn in the middle, that there is a known advantage to racing on the far side over six furlongs at Ripon, and that he tends to drift to his right, naturally towards the far side. As it turned out, it didn’t matter. Although Markab was in the front rank throughout, Cosgrave wasn’t as aggressive on him as he had been in the Stewards Cup on his previous run. He led the near side group, travelling better than anything else in the race, down to the two-furlong pole, and then picked up impressively when Cosgrave asked him to get out after the overall leader Advanced, who led the far side group. It looked for a little while as if he wasn’t going to get there, but the rider had timed it well, and Markab stuck his willing neck out to get up and win by a head.

This was the end of a run of bad luck for Henry Candy’s gelding. He was drawn on the unfavoured stands side in the Wokingham, yet ran out of his skin to beat everything that raced around him handsomely and finish fourth overall. He raced on his own down the centre of the track in the Stewards Cup, looked a winner at the furlong pole, but was swamped inside the final 100 yards and finished fourth again. He again had an unfavourable draw to overcome on Saturday, but he is obviously talented, he has retained his form well, and the handicapper had taken a chance by only putting him up 1lb for his Stewards Cup run. He has got another 4lb for this performance, which isn’t harsh, but which brings him up to a mark of 104, which is right on the coat tails of the top sprinters. He is in the Ayr Gold Cup, in which he would have to carry a penalty, and he could go in the Portland, but he could be even better than a handicapper now and he is worth trying at Group level. He is not in the Haydock Sprint Cup, but he would be an interesting outsider if he were to be supplemented for that.

15th August 2009