Horses To Follow » Almodovar


Almodovar was impressive in wining the one-mile-three-furlong handicap at Kempton on Wednesday. Sent to the front from flagfall by George Baker, David Lanigan’s horse travelled easily in front down the back straight, in a nice even rhythm for Baker. He had the field well stretched out by the time they left the back straight, the rider did not try to stack them up, but Almodovar always appeared to be travelling at a decent pace at which he was comfortable. He moved easily into the home straight with a two-length lead as his rivals in behind started to come under pressure. Moved towards the centre of the track as soon as they straightened up, he still travelled easily to the two-furlong pole, Baker did nothing more than just nudge him along, but he was still able to retain his two-length advantage. Baker gave him a squeeze on the run to the furlong pole, and Almodovar came clear. He much have gone about eight lengths clear of his rivals before Baker eased him heavily inside the final 150 yards, allowing the gap to be reduced to six.

This was a really impressive performance from Almodovar. This looked like a decent handicap beforehand, but he won really easily, conceding weight to all his rivals. He was just ridden out hands and heels before he was eased heavily, and he was value for much more than the six-length winning margin. The time was decent without being a standout, the joint-fastest time on the evening, but he could have gone significantly faster.

This was a really good step forward from the son of Sea The Stars. Winner of two of his four races last season as a three-year-old, his first season to race, this was his seasonal debut, his first run since he was beaten at Pontefract after he hung to his left last August. It is also his first since he had an operation to remove a chipped bone in his knee, and his first since he was gelded. He is s big horse, he is probably only starting to grow into his frame, and he has bundles of scope for progression. He hung a little to his left again here, which is probably down to inexperience, so he could improve again for this experience. His upward trajectory could be quite sharp now.

He was racing off a mark of 93 here, but it is significant that his trainer thought enough of him to give him an entry in the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, as well as in the Hardwicke Stakes and the Eclipse. He should be equally adept over 10 furlongs and a mile and a half. The handicapper has raised him by 14lb to a mark of 107, but the performance merited a hike of that magnitude. Add that to the scope that he had for further progression, and he is a really exciting prospect. He will be of interest wherever he goes next, even if he is stepped up significantly in grade.

18th May 2016