Horses To Follow » Mamlook


Mamlook probably put up a career-best performance when he ran out a really impressive winner of the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Ascot on Saturday. Settled well back by Hayden Frost behind a strong pace that was set by his stable companion Lough Derg (who, incidentally, is as good as ever on this evidence, and who will be of interest when stepped up in trip again) and towards the inside, he travelled really well throughout. He and the Paul Nicholls-trained favourite Qozak were the only two horses still on the bridle going over the third last. He moved up easily in behind the leaders on the run around the home turn, cruised up in behind Tasheba and Lough Derg on the run to the second last, took it up off Tasheba just before the last, jumped that obstacle well and kept on well on the run-in despite idling a little to post a really impressive victory.

There was an awful lot to like about this performance from Mamlook. He travelled like a good horse throughout, he improved easily, he jumped really well, he picked up impressively, and he left the impression that he had a fair bit more left to give if more had been required. The form of the race may be questioned in some quarters with favourite Qozak just not getting home after travelled well to the home turn – he was having his second run in three days under a 5lb penalty instead of a 14lb re-assessment, so perhaps it just came a little too quickly for him, and he is another in which it should pay to retain faith – and with second favourite, the mare Stravinsky Dance, finishing well back in the end, but runner-up Tasheba had the potential to put in a high class performance like this, third-placed Lough Derg is continually under-rated, and the time of the race was really good, the fastest comparative time of the day and 0.16secs/furlong faster than Racing Post par. A winner over a mile and a half for Kevin Prendergast back in 2007, Mamlook finished second in last year’s Cesarewitch behind Darley Sun and ran really well on his debut over hurdles this term to finish second to Celestial Halo in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton from 10lb out of the handicap over an inadequate two miles on a sharp track. He appreciated the step back up to two and a half miles on Saturday. The handicapper gave him 6lb for this, which is not harsh and which brings him up to a mark of 145, the mark off which he effectively competed in that Elite Hurdle. Looking ahead to Cheltenham, it is worrying that he has disappointed in the Fred Winter, the Greatwood Hurdle and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle in three visits to Prestbury Park, so it may pay to swerve him if he does compete in the Coral Cup in March. He didn’t appear to stay three miles on his only attempt at the distance at Aintree last April. Two and a half miles looks like his distance, but he will also be of interest if he takes his chance in the Totesport Trophy at Newbury on 13th February, where the probable fast pace and big field should suit him well.

23rd January 2010