Remember the name 'Muntazah'
Bitterly unlucky not to break his maiden at first asking at Newmarket Friday, Muntazah (right of picture) is worth following.
A big, scopey, strong-looking son of Dubawi and Oaks (Eng-G1) placegetter Rumoush (a half-sister to Ghanaati), from the all-star family of Nashwan, Nayef and Unfuwain, the Sheikh Hamdan homebred fairly shouted that he'd improve off this seven-furlong debut. No wonder the Barry Hills juvenile went off at 16-1.
Understandably, Sheikh Hamdan's retained rider Paul Hanagan opted for Manaafidh, who shaped as a more precocious type from the Richard Hannon yard. Hanagan made the right decision on Friday, for that one came out on top in a messy race.
But the hard-luck runner-up Muntazah is the one to remember. Traveling behind the leaders for Dane O'Neill, he took a few strides to pick up, but was just advancing between foes in what could have been the decisive move -- only to be sideswiped by the pacesetter's lugging in. Muntazah had to take up in the squeeze play, and then stay on hold in the pocket, until O'Neill was able to dart to the inside for room.
After all of that, the newcomer could have been forgiven if he gave up. Yet he showed a terrific attitude to regain his momentum, and he briefly looked like winning anyway. But Manaafidh, who had enjoyed a clear shot on the outside, headed him on the line. Muntazah responded a fraction too late and pulled away just past the wire.
Muntazah doesn't hold engagements in any major two-year-old races at the moment, but he is entered for next year's Derby (Eng-G1). On pedigree and looks, he's definitely a horse who will come into his own in time, and connections are wise if they regard him more as one for next year. But on Friday's evidence, he'll check that maiden box very soon. Maybe he'll even accomplish more at two than first thought.
Photo of Manaafidh and Muntazah courtesy of Newmarket Racecourse via Facebook.