Horses To Follow » Awzaan


The Mark Johnston-trained Awzaan has been hugely disappointing since his two-year-old days but showed signs of returning to his Middle Park winning form when doing comfortably best of those who raced away from the stands side in the seven furlong Group 3 Criterion Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday. The first four home all came from the group of five who raced under the stands side rail, with the winner Librano racing flush against the rail, while Awzaan led the group of six down the middle and kept on well to beat the rest of the group quite comfortably.

After an unbeaten two-year-old campaign culminating in that Middle Park success, having already won the Mill Reef Stakes, he disappointed in the Guineas last year but was given plenty of time off after that. He ran a couple of promising races in the autumn (he was put up here after the first of those in a Listed race at Haydock behind Cityscape) before disappointing again on his final run. This Criterion run was his third run back this season and each time he has looked to be getting progressively closer to his juvenile from.

Although he was beaten seven lengths by the winner, that is probably misleading as he actually beat the seven who raced centre or far side well. He finished nearly two lengths ahead of the second home from that group, Field Of Dream, who had previously finished second to Worthadd in a Group 2 race in Italy, and that horse subsequently ran a fine race to finish second to Canford Cliffs in the Lockinge Stakes. Also, the favourite Flambeau was one of those who raced over there, so Awzaan deserves credit for running as well as he did in the circumstances.

Although he had a couple of winners over the last two days of the Royal meeting, and even though his horse Jukebox Jury won the Group 3 Fred Archer Stakes, the race before the Criterion, Mark Johnston’s horses have been a little quiet of late, which makes Awzaan’s effort here stand out a bit more. There could well be a day in him soon enough now, he is still a classy colt. His best form is on fast ground, although he does handle it easier, and this seven-furlong trip could be his optimum.

25th June 2011