Zabeel Battles To First Win Of The Season

Whilst everyone was catching their breaths from Aint Nobody winning at Royal Ascot, Batal Zabeel was lining up for his race at Ripon. The 3yo had only made one start this season and took a step forward to make all in the 6f Wells Memorial Challenge Trophy Handicap.

Barring one race last year, where there was a tack malfunction, Batal Zabeel had been very progressive but maybe not the most straight forward. This led to him being gelded over the winter but starting off on a mark of 81 looked quite attractive. It took until June for him to return to action, where he was far from disgraced at Musselburgh.

With a run under his belt it was expected that the gelding would take a big step forward at Ripon. Shane Gray was taking the ride and looked to capitalise on his favourable draw. With just 8 runners lining up, he wanted to try and jump well from 5 and get to the stands side rail. As Batal Zabeel proved more than willing, the pair took up the lead and headed across to the rail. Racing in first time cheek-pieces, Batal was enthusiastically taking the, along, with about 3/4 length lead.

Everything went smooth through the first half of the race and when Shane began to wind things up, he caught a few of his rivals on the hop. Passing the 2f pole he had got his mount lengthening and those in behind were reacting. Batal was not proving to be the easiest partner, hanging away from the rail but continued to stride forward. Although he had been at work, Shane had yet to really go for his mount. Rivals were dropping away but the favourite now burst through the chase down the leader.

Moving into the final furlong, Shane really got to work, keeping his mount on an even keel and trying to repel the challenge. The favourite now loomed up with a dangerous looking run. This actually helped both Shane and Batal Zabeel, as they now had someone to run alongside. The race was between the front two but Batal Zabeel still held a neck advantage. He was proving to be very tough in front and it would be as close as the fav would get. Now Batal Zabeel fought all the way to the line, and pulling out some more, he clinched the win by a brave neck margin.

It was a good performance from Batal Zabeel who showed a very good attitude in the latter stages. The favourite cam through with a strong challenge and he fought all the way to the line, proving too much for his rival. Batal Zabeel has been progressive throughout his career and stepping back up to 6f was a bonus here. It will be interesting to see what the handicapper does but on this evidence, Batal Zabeel should continue to be competitive in similar events in the near future.

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