Horses To Follow » Al Destoor

Al Destoor

Al Destoor was a little unlucky not to win the 10-furlong handicap at York on Sunday.

Strong in the market beforehand, Jennie Candlish’s horse was settled out the back of the field by Tom Queally through the early stages of the race. Still second last of the 18 runners as they straightened up for home, he started to make his ground toward the far side among horses, but he had to navigate his way through traffic and he was continually checked in his run. Queally had to take a pull on the run to the furlong pole as he tried to angle his way out from behind a wall of horses. Fully three lengths behind the duelling leaders Muraabit and El Beau with 150 yards to run, he finished off his race really well to take the runner-up spot, just a short head in front of El Beau and still a length and a half behind Muraabit, but it is easy to argue that he would have won had he got into the clear a little sooner.

Obviously unlucky-looking losers are often over-bet next time, but Al Destoor was probably the best horse in the race at the weights on the day and, more than that, he has plenty of scope for progression. Winless in three runs in Ireland in 2013 as a three-year-old, he didn’t win either in 10 runs for Anthony Middleton, which included four runs over hurdles, two on the flat on Polytrack and two on snow in St Moritz. He shaped encouragingly on his third last and penultimate runs for Middleton, however, when he finished second behind Mica Mika in a 10-furlong handicap at Doncaster, and behind Watersmeet in a 10-furlong handicap at Chelmsford in the spring of 2015, and he looks like an improved horse now for Jennie Candlish.

Well backed on his debut for his current trainer at Hamilton at the end of July, he ran well to finish second to Carbon Dating, the pair of them well clear, and the winner went on to finish a close-up fifth in a much better race back at Hamilton three weeks later off a 7lb higher mark. The handicapper left Al Destoor on his mark of 75 after that, and his performance off that mark on Sunday tells you that he is still potentially well handicapped even on his new mark of 78. Ten furlongs is a good trip for him, and he will be of interest wherever he goes next.

4th September 2016