This time off year sees the yard being very quiet on the racing front as the All-Weather season continues to roll along. Now all the horses are back from their winter breaks and the stable is in full swing, gearing up to the 2020 season ahead. Over the next couple of months the number of runners will slowly increase with some lightly raced 3yo’s getting important runs under the belt and other horses who maybe didn’t get the number of runs expected last year. Coast Of Alfujairah fits both of those criteria and the 3yo Gelding gained his first career win when taking the 5f Ladbrokes Home Of The Odds Boost Handicap at Newcastle.
The son of Brazen Beau was one of Kevin’s first juvenile runners of 2019 and looked like a winner waiting to happen the moment he took to the track. After a very green run on debut, where stage fright seemed to take over, Coast Of Alfujairah then shaped promisingly next time out over 6f. Travelling like a dream at Carlisle, the colt faded in the final furlong on the testing ground but had again shown that the ability was there. The third and final run of his juvenile career was the one that was disappointing as Coast Of Alfujairah weakened quite visibly in the latter stages in a Nottingham novice.
Following his final run Kevin felt that the colt would be more likely to reach his potential with a bit of time to mature and strengthen up. Unfortunately he was set to head to the sales but thankfully, following the recommendation of Kevin, Hambleton Racing purchased Coast Of Alfujairah. Sent for a winter break and subsequently gelded, he spent a little time away with a small all-weather campaign in mind at the beginning of 2020.
It was clear that time had allowed Coast Of Alfujairah to fill out and the stronger model returned to training. Having progressed through his work well, it was time to find a race for Coast Of Alfujairah when the new year came around. There are plenty of races around the turn of the year and it was Newcastle chosen to be his opening outing of 2020. Although the 0-65 contest didn’t offer heaps of form, the 3yo handicaps can offer some hidden gems and horses to follow for the year ahead. There were only 7 declared for the event and Coast Of Alfujairah was vying for favouritism with Kayat. Both 3yo’s were backed on potential improvement and were the most interesting contenders in the race. Tom Eaves was booked for the ride and was fresh off a winner on the night, looking to complete a double.
Tactics were quite straightforward once the stalls opened. Coast Of Alfujairah jumped smartly and into the lead immediately. His rivals were happy to tuck in behind and with this Tom allowed the gelding to stride on. The favourite Kayat adopted more patient tactics and was held up further to the rear. Tom made a beeline for the stands side rail and this saw the field follow suit. Coast Of Alfujairah set a strong gallop as he was allowed to stride along in front.
There was no change throughout the first half of the race as Coast Of Alfujairah dictated as he pleased. By the time they reached the 2f marker Coast Of Alfujairah was still travelling strong and it was now up to his rivals to try and close the gap. One by one his rivals started to come under pressure to mount a challenge. The favourite Kayat made a move through the field and whilst there was no real impression made on the leader, the favourite was the one who came through with most promise.
Between the 2f and 1f Tom shook up the reins and got Coast Of Alfujairah to lengthen. He did just that and with the favourite giving chase, the pair began to move away from the field. Coast Of Alfujairah looked to have plenty left in the tank and when Kayat came off the bridle to lay down his challenge it was up to the gelding to respond. Passing the 1f marker Coast Of Alfujairah held a length lead and it was here that Tom had to ask him to put the race to bed. Getting lower in the saddle he asked the gelding to quicken up which he duly did. Kayat had no answer and Coast Of Alfujairah pulled clear with ease. The final furlong was just a question of how far and Coast Of Alfujairah managed to put 2 1/2 lengths between himself and the field, gaining his first career start in dominant fashion.
It was great to see Coast Of Alfujairah off the mark and the perfect start to his 2020 season. His handicap mark looked fair for the form he had shown but he did look like he had plenty of improvement to come. This win was impressive and no doubt there will be a hike in the handicap mark now. That said he looks a likely improver this year and it will be interesting to see just where he can go as the year progresses. It was the perfect start and gets the team off and running for 2020.