Horses To Follow » Native Khan

Native Khan

While the 2000 Guineas was a one-horse race with Frankel putting up a simply unbelievable performance, the second and third both ran big races in their own right to draw 11 lengths clear of the rest. Dubawi Gold is plainly improving rapidly having joining Richard Hannon and posted a big career best to chase Frankel home, but Native Khan probably has the more scope for progression of the pair.

Always considered a good horse, Ed Dunlop’s grey colt was a comfortable three and a quarter length winner of a seven furlong Newmarket maiden on his debut before getting up to land the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown next time out, stamina seemingly winning the day for him. Allowed to take his chance in the Racing Post Trophy on his final start at two, he was perhaps given an overly patient ride but did run on to finish fourth of 10 despite not taking to the soft ground. Favourite for the Craven on his reappearance, he showed more than enough speed over the mile (which had been a slight worry as he looked from his runs last year like he’d get further this term) to quicken past his rivals and lengthen clear to come home a comfortable two-length winner.

In the Guineas he was ridden fairly prominently but again perhaps not committed early enough to go about chasing Frankel down. Of course, the jockeys in behind must have expected the winner to come back to them a lot more than he did, so fast had he gone up front. When it became clear that they were never going to reach the winner, Olivier Peslier was not overly hard on Native Khan, and in fact the horse was still a tad green through the last quarter-mile (as he had been in the Craven, running around a bit in front), edging away from Dubawi Gold as that one drifted left slightly into the Dip and then hanging slightly in behind the second. Nevertheless he was still able to pull 11 lengths clear of the pack which included the hitherto unbeaten winner of the Futurity and National Stakes, the Racing Post Trophy winner, the Dewhurst second and the Criterium International winner, and many others with decent juvenile form to their names. What marks this effort up even more is that he had been a big drifter in the market in the days leading up to the race with seemingly very little confidence behind him.

Native Khan has always given the impression he will not just get further, but be even better stepped up in trip. While his dam comes from quite a speedy family, she has produced a nine-furlong two-year-old winner and a hurdle winner from her three foals before Native Khan, and his sire Azamour stayed 12 furlongs himself and seems to have imparted a good deal of that stamina to his progeny, many of whom are middle distance performers. The logical next step for Ed Dunlop’s colt therefore has to be a Derby of some description. The French version has been mentioned and that is certainly a possibility given that he is French-bred and 10 and a half furlongs is a more comfortable step up in trip than going straight up to 12 furlongs, but connections must be seriously tempted to give him a shot at Epsom. With Frankel sticking to a mile there is no standout Derby candidate at this point with a once-raced maiden winner favourite and a twice-raced maiden winner second favourite. He would have far better prospects of seeing out the trip than many placed horses from the Guineas who go on to try, and he could be one of the market leaders come the day. Best odds of 16/1 about him for Epsom at present would be very interesting if you knew that he was an intended runner.

30th April 2011