Horses To Follow » Azmeel


Noted here after he finished second to Chabal in the Classic Trial at Sandown last month, Azmeel is worthy of another mention after he won the Dee Stakes at Chester on Friday. Nothing went right for John Gosden’s horse through the race. He missed the break, he was further back in the field than Frankie Dettori wanted to be entering the home straight, and he got closed off by Hayley Turner on the fading Prompter as he tried to steal up that one’s inside leaving the back straight.

Gosden made an interesting point about that manoeuvre in a post-race interview. He said that he had been travelling well, leading with his correct leg up to that point, but after he got shut out, and had to check to switch around his weakening rival, he changed leads, he led with his off-fore, which is not ideal when you are hurtling around Chester’s seven-furlong sixpence.

Party Doctor and Dancing David then steadied the pace from the front about three furlongs out, with the result that Dettori had to sit up on Azmeel for a few strides, and he was three lengths behind the leaders and stuck on the inside when the sprint for home developed as they straightened up. Dettori went between horses instead of coming stands side, it was an ambitious path to take, but the horse had the strength, the pace, the stamina and, as importantly, the willingness to go through a small gap between Dancing David and Rasmy, he hit the front 100 yards out and he surged forward to win by a half a length.

This wasn’t a bad Dee Stakes. Dancing David, fourth in the Racing Post Trophy last year and second in the Craven this year, set a fair standard on form, and Tamaathul and Prompter were both well backed. Azmeel was the winner on merit, he was the best horse in the race on the day, and his superiority would have been amplified had he not encountered those traffic problems, or if the race had been run at an end-to-end gallop. As it was, he did really well to pick up off the steadied pace and come between horses to win well. The further they went the stronger he was getting, and there is little doubt on this evidence that he will get the mile and a half of the Derby.

The Derby is apparently next on his agenda, and why not. The Dee Stakes is not the strongest Derby trial around, but Kris Kin won the Derby after winning the Dee Stakes in 2003, and Azmeel has plenty to recommend him as a real live Derby candidate. He was impressive in winning his first two starts last year as a juvenile, including a listed race, and you can easily forgive him his last run in the Goffs Million at the end of the season, the trainer felt that he could have just gone over the top, but he allowed him take his chance simply because of the prize money on offer, he was sent off as favourite, but he was never at the races, and Michael Kinane was easy on him once it was obvious to him that he wasn’t going to be involved. He was weak in the market before his debut this season in the Classic Trial at Sandown, and again, William Buick wasn’t hard on him once his winning chance had gone. He obviously improved for that run, and it would not be surprising to see him improve again sufficiently to reverse Sandown form with his conqueror there Chabal in the Derby. A son of Azamour, a King George winner, he is out of a Kings Best mare who stayed a mile and a half. He raced here like he should have no problem getting the Derby trip, indeed he could improve for it, and 33/1 about him for the Derby is big at this stage. His chance is much better than that.

7th May 2010