Leeds United have enjoyed a season to remember, promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years. Kevin is a big fan of the club and so too are many of his owners. Bielsa, Reviette, Radebe, Elland Road Boy are all examples of the Leeds fans dedication to their club. Alioski is named after their left sided wing back and continued the celebration for all things Leeds when he opened his account in the 7f CPMS Handicap at Ayr.
When you have horses named after anything football related the fans of that club tend to take notice and follow. Unfortunately Alioski, the equine one, wasn’t a big fan favourite unlike his namesake. The son of Kodiac had a slow start to his racing career. With just one run on turf lasts season, Alioski then had two further efforts on the all-weather late in 2019. All 3 runs were underwhelming but meant that he gained a handicap mark and may be able to build on it with some time to mature.
The gelding returned to action at Beverley and did show a glimmer of hope moving forward. Having raced prominently, Alioski was just outpaced at the 2f but then stuck on over 5f which was too sharp. It was clear that a step up in trip would be required and Alioski would race over 6f next time out. Again he was prominent but once again he was outpaced before plugging on. Now both runs had been ok but Kevin felt that he may need some help and one more step up in trip.
Cheek-pieces were fitted for the first time as Alioski travelled up to Ayr for the 7f contest. Although not completely given up on, Alioski would need to take a step forward with the new trip, so it was a big race for the 3yo. The race only attracted 9 runners but there was varying types and Alioski was the least exposed, especially trying the new trip. Kevin Stott got the leg up for the ride.
Jumping from the widest stall Alioski was well away and soon into his rhythm. Those inside of him either were not wanting to go forward or not quick enough which allowed Kevin the room to track over. He immediately reached the leader to sit on his girths and grab second position. It was quite an even pace with one or two just fighting for their head though the early furlongs. Alioski was positioned nicely and seemed to be moving ok on the heavy ground. Recent weather had seen the ground become very testing so Alioski’s stamina would be posed a big question.
They were soon rounding the left-handed bend that would take the runners into the home straight. Through the first half of the race Alioski travelled well, maintaining his pitch alongside the leader. As they entered the straight the pace increased heading past the 3f marker. Alioski matched the leader as they edged away from the rail for the first time. Winding it up from the front the leader was trying to catch the field not he stretch. Kevin started to work and get his mount to lengthen for him. He soon went from that to full on drive as Alioski started to look one paced. The field had fanned out with Alioski coming down towards the stands side rail. The race looked to developing towards the centre of the track as Big City came through travelling smoothly.
Kevin had been hard at work from well over 2f out and for most of the time the response he was getting was not too positive. Although the race had looked to be developing in the centre, a couple of the challengers quickly wilted baring down on the final furlong. Now Alioski started to pick up a little and Kevin was starting to get a bit of a run for his money. Equidae had led throughout and still held sway entering the final but was being hassled for the lead by Big City who had moved through with but now came under a hard drive.
Alioski latched on to the leader’s tail and with that he looked to gain confidence. With something to aim at he found another gear and picked up. Big City was racing away from this pair and nicked the lead 150 yards from home. Alioski was now getting up on Equidae and cut into his lead, now only 1/2 length down. Momentum was on the side of Alioski and he passed Equidae he did likewise with Big City. In one fell swoop Alioski took the lead just 50 yards from the line. If the trip was a question before the race and stamina was a doubt then they were dispelled as Alioski strode out to the line to win by 1 length going away.
It was lovely to see Alioski win especially in the colours of Mr and Mrs Jack Berry who Kevin worked for and proved to be a mentor. The 3yr old needed to step up and he did just that with the trip looking to be ideal for him. Cheek-pieces were also a welcome addition and they ensured that he concentrated throughout the contest. Hopefully he can go from this as he did win with a little bit of authority. Ground and trip were no problem and he may get a little further too so there are options moving forward. This could be the confidence boost that he needed to kick start his career.