Al Khan, good at his best but a monkey at times. His career has seen him hit a high of 96 in the handicap and tackle some top handicap races at the big meetings. Unfortunately time catches up with us all and it has done with Khan. Although the legs may be waning a little his love for the game isn’t and he proved that when he took his 14th career win in the 7f Watch RacingUK In Stunning HD Claiming Stakes at Redcar.
It was out of claiming company that Kevin picked Al Khan up and he has certainly paid his way for the 3 years that he has been at Hambleton Lodge. Khan showed immediately what he could do when he stepped from claiming company to a class 2 handicap, finishing 3rd but ultimately a little unlucky. This would be the story of his time with Kevin, although he never won a handicap higher than class 4 he was placed many times and picked up plenty of prize money along the way. Al Khan flitted between handicaps and the top grade claimers, which he would pick up for fun. Nowadays his grade is that but he still shows a real love for the game and continues to pay his way.
The 7f event attracted just 6 runners and they could be split into two groups. Al Khan, Shovel It On and Acrux were rated 10-22lbs higher than the other three runners so it was no surprise to see them leading the market. Al Khan, fresh from some good AW form, was the 2-1 second fav behind Shovel It On. Kevin called upon the services of Ben Robinson, with the apprentice’s 5lb claim potentially a deciding factor.
Al Khan has always been a bit of law to himself and he loves to come from off the pace, with a tendency to pull up in front. To give Ben a little headache early on he jumped quickly, straight into the lead. Obviously at this grade it can be quite tricky to find the race run to suit so Ben sat quietly, hoping something would kick on and take the lead from him. Fortunately Gaelic Wizard moved up on his outer and took the front running duty. This gave Al Khan a lead he wanted and so Ben tucked in behind the leader with the field settling down into arrow formation.
Distress signals came from the favourite as early as the 4f marker. De Sousa was not driving along but he was certainly working a little to try and get his mount to travel. The pace was still high and with Al Khan sat right on the leader’s tail it allowed Acrux to move up down the stands side. There was certainly no hanging about and it wasn’t long before the field were sprinting past halfway. It was her that they began racing, a long way from home and it would prove to be a test for some of these tricky customers.
As Ben sat patiently he just lost his position with some of his rivals already making a charge and passing him. Acrux had moved up to lead with ease and travelled hard on the bridle, in complete contrast to the favourite who was being hard driven. Al Khan was still just 1 1/2 length from the lead but with the pace increasing, Ben would have to start working to keep his mount in the race.
The complexion of the race quickly changed as they bared down on the 2f marker. Having travelled supremely well the leading pair suddenly started to struggle and folded without much of a fight. Shovel It On had been under the drive for a long way but to his credit had responded and came through to take the lead down the centre of the track. Ben was now working on Al Khan to make a challenge and he came through between the retreating pace setters. It looked as though it would be a battle of the market leaders as the pair pulled a couple of lengths clear.
Moving into the final furlong and Al Khan grabbed the lead. Ben had got him into full flow and now the pair just had 200 yards to run. The favourite couldn’t match his counterpart and was starting to be a little one paced. This allowed the pair Space War and Lord Rob to come through and give Al Khan one last challenge. Although his lead was a couple of lengths, Khan had daylight in front of him which in his mind means that the job was done. Space War was finishing with a real flurry and it looked as though it was going to be a really tight finish. Ben was working hard to keep Khan up to his work but his lead was diminishing with each stride. Fortunately Space War just got close enough to him with 50 yards to go which gave Khan to kick up the backside he needed. With a flick of the stick Ben got him to find just a little more and repel the late flourish from Space War.
It was a race that won’t go down in history as a classic but it did give fans a cracking finish. At the age of 9 Kevin knows that Al Khan’s best days are behind him but he still retains enough ability to do himself justice at his level. When the day comes that he has had enough then Kevin will find him a nice home to retire to. Now, at this time there is no signs yet and Al Khan will continue to perform, flitting between claimers and handicaps, giving owner Jimmy Chua plenty of fun along the way.