Horses To Follow » Al Kazeem

Al Kazeem

Sea Moon rightly took all the headlines after his impressive win in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York on Wednesday, but Al Kazeem ran a cracker too to finish second on his first run for 95 days after a setback. His trainer said that he would come on for the run, which is significant as he put in what was most likely a career-best on ground that would have been softer than ideal and on his first run over a mile and a half. He was a little free early on as the main body of runners rather ignored the pace-making Regent Street and probably only went a fairly steady pace, and Roger Charlton’s colt looked in a little bit of trouble at the rear as they turned for home with the pace quickening, but the way he picked up from the top of the home straight was likeable. He was soon back on the bridle and switched inside as Richard Hughes on Sea Moon came widest of all in front of Al Kazeem, and he was briefly caught in a bit of a pocket between Seville and Namibian. While he was never really going to beat the impressive winner, he stayed on well all the way to the line to get the better of Seville for the runner-up spot quite convincingly in the end.

The time of the race was good, comfortably the quickest comparative time on the round course on the day, much better than Twice Over clocked in winning the Group 1 Juddmonte International. It appears that the fact that Sea Moon was a very easy victor has resulted in Al Kazeem’s performance going slightly under the radar, and he was comfortably clear of the rest. It is not as if it was a weak race either. Admittedly one or two of the horses in behind may have run below form, but they cant all have done. Seville may well have been a victim of whatever is affecting the Aiden O’Brien yard at present, but he set a high standard coming into the race, as did Namibian, who had won two Group 3 contests before this and appeared to be on a steep upward curve. Hunter’s Light had finished a close third in the Gordon Stakes behind Namibian at Goodwood on his previous run but, like the Mark Johnston horse, he was well beaten here.

Al Kazeem’s grandam, Kanz, was second in the Yorkshire Oaks, and Al Kazeem seemed to improve for the step up in trip to a mile and a half himself here. He bettered the Racing Post Rating that he achieved in winning the London Gold Cup at Newbury on his previous start, the form of which is working out well. Although he was allowed to set a pace that suited him that day, he picked up strongly from the front and never looked like getting caught. In behind him were Labarinto and Fulgur, who have subsequently won big three-year-old handicaps at Glorious Goodwood and the Newmarket July Festival respectively. Also, the fourth horse home that day, Rastaban, has won two handicaps himself since, while the fifth, Dominant, went on to annihilate a good field in a sales race at Newmarket before finishing a close-up third behind Twice Over in the Group 2 York Stakes, and in front of subsequent Group 3 winner Class Is Class. The form could hardly be much stronger.

Al Kazeem is not in the St Leger, his only big-race entry at present is in the Cambridgeshire and, while he is towards the head of the betting for that race in ante post lists, it is hard to see him going there off his new mark of 107, dropping back down to nine furlongs, on the back of this run over a mile and a half. He could go for the Arc Trial at Newbury in mid-September, a Group 3 race that Roger Charlton has won twice in the recent past with Blue Monday. He will be of interest wherever he does go though. He is still progressive.

17th August 2011