Horses To Follow » Muteela


Muteela put up a really nice performance to beat the colts in the one-mile handicap at Newmarket on Saturday. Bounced out of the gate by Dane O’Neill, the Mark Johnston-trained filly was quickly into a nice rhythm in front. She didn’t get an easy lead, mind you, she was not allowed dictate a steady pace and then kick. On the contrary, she bounded along in a three-length lead, and everything else in behind her appeared to be going as fast as he or she wanted to go.

Still on the bridle at the three-furlong pole as, one by one, her rivals started to come off it and close, she picked up again two furlongs out and put daylight between herself and her pursuers again. The well-fancied Pretzel emerged from the pack to challenge her on the far side, but it never really looked like Roger Varian’s colt was going to get past the game filly, and she kept on well enough to prevail be a half a length, with a nice near-four-length gap back to the third horse Crystal Lake.

This performance by Muteela obviously surprised a few people. She was really weak in the market immediately before the race. Actually, she was only third best of Sheikh Hamdan’s three horses, and she was third best by some distance in the market, with Paul Hanagan choosing to ride Zerfaal instead. She may have her quirks, she had to be withdrawn on her previous trip to the races at Chester’s May meeting, and she is small, but she is obviously talented, and she has a really willing attitude.

This was just her third ever run, and she has yet to be beaten. She battled on well to get home by a nose at Lingfield last October on her racecourse debut, her only run as a juvenile, and she made all and came clear on her three-year-old debut at Beverley in April. This was a significant step forward on that, however. She won well, she beat a well-fancied rival into second place, the pair of them clear, and the winning time was good.

Mark Johnston mentioned the Sandringham Handicap at Royal Ascot as her next intended target, and that is interesting. She has never run at Ascot, and it can be difficult to make all over a straight mile at the Royal meeting, but her toughness would be a massive asset in that race, and it looks like the right race for her now. If she doesn’t go to Ascot, she will be of interest wherever she goes next.

31st May 2014