Horses To Follow » Zibelina


There was a huge amount to like about the manner in which Zibelina won the Listed Valiant Stakes over a mile at Ascot on Friday. She did have the run of the race just on the outside of the leader Light Up My Life off a really sedate early pace, but she was a fair bit keener than ideal in the hands of Ahmed Ajtebi, who has only just returned to Britain to ride. She was still keen to go faster than her rider wanted turning for home, Ajtebi had his hands right up her neck to try to get a grip of her, and she was still taking quite a powerful tug into the home straight. Once allowed stride on, she effortlessly drew alongside the leader early in the straight. It did taker her a little while to really get into top gear, and she was narrowly headed by Ultrasonic, who had sat just off the pace, a furlong and a half out, but she picked up impressively inside the final furlong and she started to pull clear half a furlong from home, before she was eased down for the final few strides to record an impressive victory.

Both this race and the Class 2 mile-and-a-quarter handicap on the card were run in a time that was faster than standard. The ground was conducive to fast times all weekend at Ascot – Novellist smashed the track record in the King George – but there was a solid pace in the handicap and for Zibelina to go under standard having been keen off the sedate pace is a very good sign.

The daughter of Dansili came into this on the back of just one previous run, when she went clear impressively to win a Newcastle maiden at the end of June. She had been uneasy in the market prior to that debut (she carried the second colours of Godolphin and their other horse was well backed) but she travelled really strongly and quickened up well into a headwind.

She should progress again for this experience, just her second ever run, and she is exciting now. She should be even better ridden behind the pace in a more strongly-run race, she showed she has a big engine here and if she can learn to relax in her races – and that may come with experience – she could be very good indeed. Her dam is a half-sister to Carlton House, and she is worth close consideration wherever she runs now. She could be under-rated if she is stepped up in grade.

26th July 2013