Horses To Follow » Awzaan


There was a lot to like about Awzaan’s performance in landing the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. Taken back early on and settled in sixth of the seven runners in the early stages, the son of Alhaarth impressed with the manner in which he settled off what was not that frenetic an early pace. His demeanour was in stark contrast with that of Radiohead, the only horse behind Awzaan in the early stages, who obviously wanted to go a fair bit faster than his rider Jamie Spencer wanted him to. Radiohead moved to the far side of the group to make his move whereas Awzaan progressed on the near side, very easily, between the three-furlong and the two-furlong pole, to arrive there in the front rank as Radiohead went for home. Richard Hills just gave Awzaan a slight squeeze and he picked up impressively, he and Radiohead making their move at the same time. You always felt that Awzaan was travelling slightly better, however, and he took it up off Radiohead as they passed the furlong pole before going two lengths clear. Angel’s Pursuit cut the deficit to a length and a half by the time they reached the line, but he was never going to catch the winner.

You could argue that Radiohead didn’t give his true running. He was a little freer than ideal through the early stages, he didn’t really drop the bit as easily as you would have liked, and the energy that he expended in so doing didn’t help him inside the final furlong. You could also argue that Brian Meehan’s colt did not fully deserve his rating of 113, a rating that was awarded after he got to within a length and a half of Borderlescott in the Nunthorpe, getting what many believe to be an over-generous 24lb juveniles’ allowance. That said, Awzaan could hardly have been more impressive in winning. On top of that, he was building on a hugely progressive profile on just his third ever run. After making all to win his maiden at Hamilton in June, he was held up in a hot conditions race at Newmarket’s July meeting before showing a bright turn of foot to go clear and win by five lengths. Although the winning time wasn’t great, and the form has been let down a little since, the manner of Awzaan’s victory was hugely impressive, and all nine of his rivals on the day had won on their previous starts. Furthermore, Awzaan’s owner, Sheikh Hamdan, had won the same race the previous year with this year’s Jersey Stakes winner Ouqba. Awzaan is high in the Guineas betting, and he has every chance of getting a mile on breeding next year, being by Alhaarth, who was essentially a nine-to-10-furlong horse, and the first foal out of the Zafonic mare Nufoos, who was at her best over seven furlongs but who did just about get a mile. The Middle Park is apparently Awzaan’s next intended target, and he will be a potent force in that.

19th September 2009

© The Irish Field, 26th September 2009