Many people refer to York as the Ascot of the north and you’ll struggle to find people who disagree with that. Quality racing, great prize money and a proper Yorkshire atmosphere make York one of racing’s best tracks and northern trainers love to have runners and winners at the track. It has been another great season at the track and their final 2 day meeting saw Kevin finish the year in style when he sent out Teruntum Star and Mont Kinabalu to win on the last Saturday of 2017.
Teruntum Star has always been a sprinter that Kevin has held in the highest regard. Unfortunately he has never been straight forward to train, seemingly always finding a niggle here and there which has put a spanner in the works. Every step forward would always be met by two back and that is never going to allow a trainer to get a horse to flourish and reach their potential. Thankfully this year has been a different story and Teruntum Star showed his class when running away with the 6f Coral Sprint.
Despite never recording back to back wins, Teruntum has always found himself rated 90+ since his 3 yr old days. This is because he would always pop up with a win in a good handicap following a brief spell where everything went right for him. Never one to suffer a serious injury he would always find little niggles which explains why as a 5 yr old he ha still only had 19 runs. Kevin was hopeful this year after a clear run with Teruntum which allowed him to really train the sprinter like he wanted. Although Teruntum would miss the early part of the season, the plan was the big races in the second half. Returning at Newcastle he ran well for a long way before getting very tired. Connections were pleased and the run had really knocked off any race rust. Just 28 days later he would run again, finishing fourth at York, leading for a long way before succumbing late on. This run was very pleasing and really showed that Teruntum was going the right way.
There are many races to think about but when you move towards the final few months of the season, Ayr comes to mind for Kevin regarding his sprinters. Having dropped to a mark of 91 there would be no way that Teruntum would get in to many of the top sprints which proved true when he was declared for the Great St Wilfred. Missing out on the main event he would have to run in the consolation race. It was obvious that to stand any chance of getting into the Gold Cup he would need to win and win convincingly. Showing good pace, Teruntum was prominent throughout before quickening up well and then repelling a late challenge. Although he won by just a neck, the pair pulled well clear of the rest which forced the handicapper to put him up 7lb to 98 for the win.
With his new mark, Teruntum was on the cusp of the Ayr Gold Cup. Having run in the gold and silver cups in the previous two years, he had not performed to his best having gone in with poor preparations. Now Kevin had him in top condition and he would be his sole runner in the defence of the Gold Cup. Unfortunately terrible weather caused the track to cancel the entire Gold Cup meeting, a huge disappointment for all and especially connections of Teruntum. Thankfully Kevin already had York in mind for his 5 yr old as a follow up to the Gold Cup so it was straight on to the Knavesmire.
Lining up against 19 rivals for the competitive Coral Sprint, it seemed as though ground conditions may be in his favour. The drying soft ground had been described as Good before racing but many of the jockeys felt that it was still quite “dead”. With form on such ground Teruntum had confidence behind him and Kevin Stott got legged up for the third time in a row. Drawn in stall 2, Kevin was told to try and replicate the tactics used at Ripon although it may not be easy to do so with pace in and around them.
When the stalls opened it became clear immediately that most of the pace would come from the lower numbers. Teruntum jumped well and got into a prominent position, racing with a handful of horses who also wanted to be positive. Those drawn higher seemed to want to take a lead and quickly dropped in. The twenty runners covered a lot of the track but converged to race towards the centre of the track. It was Teruntum along with a few other that were forcing the pace and so the overall lead was towards the far side of the field.
As with all top sprints the pace was strong and it wasn’t long before they passed halfway. the advantage was always towards the far side but as the race heated up those held up began to get involved. Teruntum travelled well throughout and was right on the premises. The leaders tried to quicken from 2 1/2f out as the challenges began to weave and move through the field to come through with a run. Kevin was sat motionless on board Teruntum as the chestnut continued to travel powerfully. As those around him started to work, Teruntum moved easily and took the overall lead as they hit the 2f marker.
Leading the field and with daylight in front of them, Kevin now got into his drive and he got a response from his mount. Teruntum kicked away from those that he raced with for the first 4f. The dangers now looked to be coming from those positioned towards the centre and stands side who had been generally waited with. Changing his legs, Teruntum was just starting to lug towards other horses as he saw where the danger was coming from. Kevin pulled his stick through the correct his mount but unfortunately Teruntum bumped into Growl, who had come through to challenge. The chestnut continued going forward and this collision helped to spur him on gain, Growl immediately weakened out of it. Heading into the final furlong and Teruntum held a 3/4 length advantage.
Just the final furlong of clear daylight was in front of Teruntum as he found another gear. It looked as though he had burnt off those who had forced the pace and repelled a few initial challenges. He began to stretch away and it looked as though it was just a matter of how far. Opening up a convincing 2 length lead there was no danger close to him. There were some late flourishes coming from the rear of the field, like Portland winner Spring Loaded who was flying home down the stands side. These were just eye catching late runs because Teruntum had gone and was not stopping in front. He was powering home and ran out a convincing 1 3/4 length winner.
This was a career high for Teruntum Star and he showed just what he is capable of. Having travelled well he then quickened up nicely from a strong pace. On his day he is a very good horse and can still improve as he has very little mileage on the clock. The handicapper will certainly have a say now and it may be that Teruntum has to tackle pattern company if he were to run again this year. There are a few listed and conditions events coming up but there may also be options over in France. Whatever the season holds it is just a great feeling to see Mr T A Rahman reaping the rewards of the patience he has shown with Teruntum Star.
Punters love to see Kevin with a 2 yr old runner at the Knavesmire. His record is very good with juveniles and some of the best horses he has trained have won at the track. Although it was taking him a few runs to get off the mark, Mont Kinabalu could well be another nice 2 yr old to have won at York when he got off the mark in the 7f coral.co.uk ebfstallions.com Novice Stakes.
The son of Society Rock had always shown plenty at home and made a pleasing start to his racing career when finishing fourth on debut. That was full of promise and coming early on in the season it looked like he was set for a big year. Unfortunately he didn’t really build on that promise next time out. Although finishing fourth again, albeit beaten a long way, and the winner being a subsequent Group 2 winner, Kinabalu had shown to be a bit too busy with other things than on racing. Proving very colty before and during the race it was decided that a couple of items removed may help him reach his potential.
After the small procedure of gelding and a small break, Mont Kinabalu returned at Catterick over 6f. Being a little outpaced early on, he ran on well to finish second. Having settled and raced the right way round, it looked as though the gelding had had the desired affect. It was decided after that run that he was crying out for a step up in trip. Therefore Kevin sent the gelding to Beverley for his next run over 7 1/2f. Again he settled well but this time closer to the front and travelled nicely throughout the contest. Hitting the front with just a furlong to run, he was caught on the stiff finish and just failed to see out the extended trip. It was clear that 7f was his trip so Kevin would look for a contest that would suit.
There were plenty of options but Kevin felt his juvenile was good enough to tackle a York Novice race and so declared Kinabalu for the final meeting. Lining up against 11 rivals he was coming into the contest with the most experience. Some saw this as a negative, claiming he was exposed and so Kinabalu was around a 6-1 chance. Kevin saw it differently, with the first two runs being a bit of a write off due to his coltish behaviour and then the subsequent runs both being over trips that were not ideal. It would be the first time Kinabalu tackled 7f and with a galloping track there was confidence that his ability would shine through.
Tom Eaves was in the plate again and with a draw of stall 3 he had options of how to ride once the stalls opened. With all the fancied runners wanting to take a lead the pace was cut out early by recent winner Dawn Breaking. Being drawn alongside Kinabalu this gave Tom a lead so he duly took it and settled just on the leader’s tail along the rail. It was an even gallop that gave everyone a chance to find the position they wanted. Quite a few of the field had broken into a sweat beforehand as the weather had changed to be very close and muggy with Kinabalu being one of them but it had no affect on him.
Heading into the bend the field split into two distinct groups, around half and half, with the majority of the leading fancies sat in the first group. Kinabalu still had the leader directly in front of him but had been surpassed around the outside to sit between fourth and fifth. He travelled well and Tom had a perfect sit when the straight came and the ground opened up for him. With the field splitting there was plenty of ground between first and last but it was the market leaders who were racing most prominently.
Straightening up for home the field moved into the second half of the race and the leader began to wind things up. Coming off the rail to race down the centre it opened up daylight for Kinabalu but with a wide open straight there was plenty of room for all ensuring no hard luck stories. Tom loosened the reins and allowed Kinabalu to move up a little closer on the leader. Down the stands side the favourite and market principals began to get involved and by the 3f marker the leader was looking like a sitting duck.
The field were spread across the track and five abreast with all looking like having chances. Kinabalu was arguably travelling best on the far side and looked a big danger. Chief Justice was the only one to come from the second group and was making headway on the leaders. All hard at work the leaders were battling for position and control of the race. Kinabalu was going well and proved to be last off the bridle. When Tom got lower in the saddle he got the response required and Kinabalu was the one to grab hold of the race. Quickening into the lead he held a narrow advantage moving into the final 2f.
There was a clear run to the line now and Kinabalu was starting to take a firm grip on the race. Those nearest couldn’t match his pace and despite edging right, Kinabalu was still powering on. Chief Justice was the one who was making good headway and weaving his way through the field. Mont kinabalu was now beginning to pull away and moved into a commanding lead as the 1f marker passed them by.
With a good couple of lengths advantage Tom was keeping his mount up to his work. Chief Justice was closing and trying very hard but Kinabalu was proving just as game in front. Head to the ground he was finding more in front and was showing great attitude. Chief Justice switched to the rail in attempt to rally and claw back the leader. Tom was in his usual power packed drive and in Kinabalu he had a partner who was just as willing. Finding more he was always holding the runner up and crossed the line with a 1/2 length advantage.
Mont Kinabalu is going the right way and looks a nice horse to look forward to. Although it was his fifth run there looks to be plenty more improvement in him now he has the right trip to tackle. In this run he settled into a lovely rhythm before quickening up nicely but then showing a very tough and willing attitude to repel the late challenge. Obviously it has taken a little time to get things right but he is a juvenile who was always well thought of. After showing he handled some cut in the ground he may well run again this year with a step up in grade coming. Kinabalu is a nice prospect but he could be one for the late pattern races, possibly a listed event at Doncaster.