Horses To Follow » Akmal


Akmal put up a fine front-running performance to land the Listed Noel Murless Stakes over a mile and six furlongs at Newmarket on Thursday. Sent to the front flagfall by Richard Hill, there really was never any point in the race at which it looked like he would surrender his lead. Favourite Manifest was probably a little disappointing, connections were considering supplementing the son of Rainbow Quest to the St Leger after he won his maiden by 20 lengths, and he was apparently working really well, with the result that he was sent off a short-priced favourite for this, far shorter than his form deserved (of course these things are easy in hindsight). He will come on for the run for sure, just the third of his life, and the ground may have been on the fast side for him, but he has a long way to go to catch Akmal next season. Runner-up Nehaam is a really useful sort, winner of the valuable Timeform Trophy at Newmarket in May when he beat Monotor Closely by a head, and a Derby prospect before he flopped in the Dante. He is probably at his best when he is fresh, so the three and a half month break since his Royal Ascot run was a positive, and he mounted a challenge of sorts inside the final two furlongs, but Akmal pulled out more when he did. The John Dunlop-trained gelding had been in front for a long time, so it is reasonable that he would be getting lonely out there, and he probably had a fair bit more in hand than the three-parts-of-a-length winning margin. Also, the time of the race was good, the only one that dipped below standard time on the day.

Akmal has now won his last three races, all over a mile and six – indeed, he has now won all four races that he has contested over the distance – and he is most progressive. He would be a leading player in the Group 2 Jockey Club Cup over two miles back at Newmarket on 17th October. He obviously handles the track and he should have no difficulty stepping up in trip. Longer term, he wouldn’t have to improve much to be a Cup horse next year.

1st October 2009