Horses To Follow » Sayif


Sayif ran a cracker in the Betfred Sprint Cup on Saturday to finish fourth behind Regal Parade and Fleeting Spirit, despite racing on what was probably the slowest part of the track. Fast away, Neil Callan moved the son of Kheleyf over towards the near rail before they had gone a furlong, from where he disputed the lead with Equiano. He came under pressure fully two furlongs out, but stuck to his task admirably as the finishers out in the middle of the track joined and passed him. Once he moved off the rail then he kept on well and, from looking like he was going to be swamped, he got back up to pass Equiano for fourth place, finishing just a half a length behind High Standing in third.

It is going to take a while to work out the new sprint track at Haydock, but on Saturday, on easy ground, it looked like it was an advantage to race down the centre of the track or even on the far side as opposed to on the stands rail. There were three races run on the sprint track on Saturday. The first was dominated by horses who raced middle to far side (five of the first six places were filled by horses drawn in the seven lowest stalls) while in the last, while high numbers dominated, the entire field raced down the centre of the track. It appeared that the jockeys had figured out by then that you didn’t want to be on the stands rail. We don’t have enough evidence yet to be dogmatic about this, but it is probable that Sayif was disadvantaged by racing on the stands rail for five of the six furlongs of the Sprint Cup. Even on the bare form, this was still a fine run, up there with the best of his career to date. A 200,000-guinea yearling and always held in high regard by trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, it was surprising that Sayif didn’t manage to win last year at all as a juvenile. In fairness, he did get close in the best of company. After getting beaten a short head in a maiden on his racecourse debut, he was again beaten a short head in the Group 2 July Stakes, when he looked unlucky. He was then third in two Group 2 contests and second to Bushranger in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, before he disappointed when odds on for a listed race on his final run of the season. This year has been better. At least he got off the mark on his first attempt, even though he had to work harder than anticipated. On his last run before last Saturday, he shaped with a lot of promise when he finished fifth, beaten a total of just over a length, in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. He was quietly fancied on Saturday, and ran a lot better than his odds of 28/1 suggested he would, and he can go on from this now. The Group 2 Diadem Stakes at Ascot at the end of September looks like a good target for him now, although he races like he might be even better over seven furlongs than he is over six. He remains interesting.

5th September 2009