As the curtain falls on another Flat racing season, the Qipco British Champions Day provides a final opportunity for the ‘just failed to get up’ brigades, who have come agonisingly close throughout the campaign to bagging that major prize.
One such horse, who has hit the post more than most during the summer, is the Marco Botti trained Suegioo. Not the biggest, and with his fair share of quirks, Botti describes his charge as “a superstar and character in his own right”.
He’s an ultra-consistent stayer owned by Dr Marwan Koukash, and carries those familiar grey silks that are regularly seen flashing home in staying events around Britain. Angel Gabrial, Gabrial’s King and Gabrial’s Star are also part of the Koukash long distance crew.
Suegioo has progressed throughout the campaign, performing at a consistently high level. His only poor run came back in May when trying to defend a Chester Cup he’d won in 2014. Never in the race this time round, he trailed home well down the field. He was quickly back on track when a strong finishing fourth at Haydock a couple of weeks later. Once again held up well off the pace, he took a fair while to get going, before staying on powerfully at the death.
At the end of June, Koukash sent a battalion to Newcastle in the hope of lifting the Northumberland Plate. Angel Gabrial came out best with a fourth place finish; however, it was again Suegioo that caught the eye, flashing home on the wide outside to take fifth. He’d struggled to ‘lay-up’ on this occasion, and again had needed most of the straight to get into top gear.
His next run in the listed Esher Stakes at Sandown again proved frustrating. He appeared to travel far better in a smaller field, but found a few speedier types in the latter stages, and in a bunch finish could only claim fourth.
The Ebor at York was without doubt his best performance of the season to date. Tried this time with blinkers rather than cheek-pieces, he was again held-up well off the pace, this time by jockey Martin Harley. He had to switch wide to make his run, and in a storming finish came within a couple of lengths of hunting down the impressive Litigant. He was giving the winner 5lbs, and had the St Leger third, Fields Of Athenry, a further five lengths back.
His most recent effort was another cracking performance behind Pallasator in the Doncaster Cup. There’s just a chance that the trip stretched him on that occasion, as he appeared to fade in the last 100 yards. Nevertheless, it was another terrific effort from a horse on the cusp of a huge win.
Saturday’s trip in the Long Distance Cup looks ideal, and the Ascot ground running at good to soft should also prove perfect for a horse that probably lacks that killer kick. On paper this Group 2 looks to be a huge step up in class, but with Pallasator generally a 5/1 joint favourite, the 16’s available on Suegioo appear more than generous.
One victory in 25 turf starts is hardly the form of a potential Group winner, yet he’s finished second or third on 13 occasions. That’s a record to be proud of.
Martin Harley has the task of having him in a position to challenge turning for home. If he can get the very best out of the horse, and that’s not always easy, there’s just a chance that this thoroughly consistent stayer could finally get his head in front where it matters.