Horses To Follow » Al Waab

Al Waab

Al Waab was a promising two-year-old last season, he finished third in the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes on his final run, but he had been at least a little disappointing on his first two runs of this season. He bounced back to form, however, in the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, when he found only the progressive Godolphin horse Royal Empire too good.

The Lady Cecil-trained colt was keen enough through the early stages of the race off quite a slow pace, he was still a little more free than ideal across the top of the course after half a mile, but he travelled really well early in the home straight. He eased to the front three furlongs out, and he quickened up impressively coming to the final two furlongs. That looked like race-winning move, he traded at 1.1 in-running, but the favourite got organised down the outside and came with a strong challenge to go past just inside the final furlong. Even so, the manner in which Al Waab tried to respond when he was joined was really likeable, and he was coming back slightly at the line, all the time drawing well clear of the rest.

This was a career-best from the three-year-old, the only three-year-old in the race, with Neil Callan putting up 1lb overweight. The winner Royal Empire is possibly still a slightly under-rated horse in Britain given his progression in Dubai, but he is talented, he is entered in the Group 1 Irish St Leger, and he was entitled to win this if fit enough for his first run back in Britain. Al Waab did well to make him work so hard, and he probably appreciated the return to quick ground, it was the quickest ground he has encountered this season. He can do even better now when he learns to settle better. This was his first run for over seven weeks, and he was probably just a bit fresh. There is every chance he will settle better next time and, as long as he does, he will be of interest. He has plenty of scope for progression, and he could be an under-rated horse.

20th July 2013