Horses To Follow » Zabana


Zabana ran a nice race to finish third in the Pertemps Qualifier at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Settled nicely in mid-division by Robbie Colgan, Andrew Lynch’s horse travelled well around the outside just behind the leaders on the run to the second last flight. He made a slight mistake at that obstacle with the result that he came under pressure on the run around the home turn. While he did pick up, he could not respond as Usuel Smurfer and Off The Charts started to go away from their field. Even so, he stayed on well to move into third place on the run to the final flight and, despite the fact that he landed on all fours over the last, he was able to keep on well enough up the run-in to withstand favourite Dara Tango’s challenge and retain third place.

This was a fine run by the Halling gelding in a competitive handicap hurdle on his seasonal debut. He has gone well fresh in the past. He won a good handicap hurdle at Leopardstown last January on his first run for six months, and he ran well to finish fifth in another good handicap hurdle at Aintree last April off a 13lb higher mark on his subsequent run, so after a break of over two months. It is not a given, therefore, that he will automatically improve just because this was his seasonal debut, but there are other reasons for believing that he can progress again now. For starters, he is only turning six, and he has raced just eight times over hurdles in his life. Also, a two-and-a-half-mile hurdler last season, this was his first run over three, and he stayed the trip well. He could be a better horse now over three miles than he was over two and a half. The handicapper left him on his mark of 130 for this, which is a mark that – assuming the British handicapper has a similar opinion to the Irish handicapper’s – probably wouldn’t be high enough to get him into the Pertemps Final at the Cheltenham Festival. He probably needs to get to around 135 or 136 in order to get into the race. The three-mile handicap hurdle at Aintree is a much better option for him now. He ran well at the track on his only visit there, and a mark of 130 should get him into it on a nice racing weight. Ideally, given how well he goes when he is fresh, he would not run now until Aintree.

28th December 2014