Consistency has never been his forte but Al Khan’s running style always provides some excitement. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to get his head in front last year but made up for that when winning the 7f Bet & Watch At sunsets.co.uk Classified Selling Stakes at Wolverhampton.
Having spent most of his career racing in the high 80’s – 90’s, age started to catch up with Al Khan last year. It was the first time that he had not registered a win for Kevin and he slowly came down the handicap. Unfortunately he couldn’t take advantage of his toppling handicap mark and once he turned 9 years old in the new year there was a slight feeling that retirement may be around the corner. Still full of life it was decided to continue with him and he rolled back the clock with a typical late flourish to snatch a last gasp win.
Lining up against 10 rivals, Al Khan was the joint top rated horse in the race. Always one to enjoy arriving with a late run, Kevin Stott was tasked with finding the right position to deliver a challenge. Slowly away, Al Khan took up his usual position to the rear of the field as the race got underway. The early pace was a dash with those wanting to go forward tussling with each other. It soon settled down as the runners found their stride and settled into their positions. Al Khan happily looked on with just a couple of rivals behind him. Kevin had kept his mount on the rail, taking the shortest route throughout.
With all the jockeys happy there was now an even gallop which saw the field bunch up. The first half of the race saw very little incident. It looked clear that all were waiting for the race to heat up before delivering their run. Kevin was certainly one of those who wanted the chance to deliver Al Khan with his good turn of foot. Moving past halfway the leaders took the field into the final bend and it was her that the first injection of pace occurred. Attempting to stretch the field, which they did, those towards the front end began to wind things up. Al Khan happily matched this and with Kevin sticking to the rail, it enabled him to move up a couple of places to sit almost in midfield.
The field swung off the bend to enter the straight with 2f to run and they spread across the track as the leaders were now making the best of their way home. It looked as though those who had been prominent throughout had been in the correct position as little was getting into the contest. Kevin now looked for a run and with his rivals spreading out in front of hime the gaps were clear. Between the 2f and 1f marker the favourite, The Amber Fort was to take over the lead and looked to be the likeliest winner. With the back markers struggling to close the gap it was left to Al Khan to chase down the new leader. Kevin was in full drive and really started to get Al Khan moving through the gears. He was making good headway but still had a good 3-4 lengths to make up.
Moving inside the final furlong and the favourite had really set sail for home, looking like he had timed his run perfectly. Now in tope gear and really flying, Al Khan was the one to lay down a late challenge and he was eating into the lead with every stride. Now he had a sniff of victory he really began to stick his head out, answering every question posed to him by Kevin. It was going to be close but as the wining post was fast approaching, the gap had been cut to within strides. Momentum was with the 9 year old and he carried his run through to snatch the lead away in the dying strides. Galloping all the way through the line he stuck his head on to win by a neck.
Ok so it wasn’t his biggest win but it was great to see Al Khan back in the winners enclosure. For a horse who was claimed, he has been a great servant for Kevin and owner Jimmy Chua. Obviously this was in a low grade for Khan but he enjoys the way all-weather races are run and off a mark of 70 he could easily step back into handicap company. He is old enough and wise enough to know his own mind when he lines up but on his day he can still be a potent threat in this kind of company.