Horses To Follow » Togiak


They went no gallop at all through the early stages of the Group 3 Autumn Stakes at Ascot on Saturday, and that was all against the two horses who were held up out the back, Azizi and Togiak. Of the pair, Azizi was the more high-profile, he was a fairly warm favourite for the race, he is by Guineas winner Haafhd out of Guineas winner Harayir, and he finished in front of Togiak, so it is probable that many people will take him out of the race. However, Togiak is much more interesting for me. He had run just three times whereas Azizi had run five times, he has huge scope for improvement and, although he finished a nose behind Azizi in fifth place, his run was more meritorious.

Held up out the back as Hayley Turner dictated a sedate pace on Prompter, Togiak was actually in front of Azizi as they started the turn for home, but because he was inside that rival, Tom Queally had to drop back early in the home straight in order to get racing room, with the result that he started the sprint for home further back and wider than any of his rivals. It was a fairly hopeless cause into a quickening pace off slow early fractions. Ed Dunlop’s colt didn’t show a lightning turn of foot, but he did stay on really well all the way up the home straight, despite his run being checked by Azizi, who was carried to his left as Simenon moved out in front of him, which in turn checked Togiak slightly in his run. He was a length and a half behind Azizi at that point, yet he was beaten just a nose by him, the pair of them finishing about four lengths behind the winner.

Togiak is not necessarily bred for a mile, by Azamour and a half-brother to a clutch of sprinters, but he is also a half-brother to Sunday’s Goodwood winner Cape Hawk, all of whose five career wins to date have been over a mile, and he races like he needs every yard of this mile trip. On his previous run in a nursery at Yarmouth, he and the winner Sulwaan came clear, but he just couldn’t get past. It was an admirable performance under 9st 7lb, giving 9lb to the winner, but he just kept on without quickening. He should have learned a lot from that experience, and the Ascot run should have brought him on again. He is worth another try over a mile, when a faster pace would surely see him to much better effect.

10th October, 2009

© The Irish Field, 17th October 2009