Henry Candy’s eight-year-old sprinter Markab proved a revelation last term, graduating from useful handicap sprinter to winning the Group 1 Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock in September, proving that age is no barrier to sprinters when the spirit is willing, writes Elliot Slater.
A likely contender for the Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes over six furlongs on the final day of the Royal Ascot meeting in the middle of June, Markab has been pencilled in for a return to action at York on May 11 where the Group 2 Duke of York Stakes is his intended target. Candy reports the Green Desert gelding to be coming along steadily in his home work, a comment that suggests the veteran is unlikely to be at his peak first time out, especially with a number of high profile targets on the radar later on in the term. Those keeping an eye on the Royal Ascot odds should follow his progress as he could make a splash at the meeting.
The winner of the 2009 Great St Wilfred Handicap at Ripon started off last term in similar vein, landing a Thirsk conditions event off a mark of 104, then followed up in impressive fashion when travelling to Ireland and coming away having won the Group 3 Greenlands Stakes, beating Snaefell by two-lengths. A cracking effort in the Group 1 Kings Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot when runner-up to the very smart Equiano, was proof positive that Markab had entered the big league at the ripe old age of seven, and he went on to surpass even that effort when making all the running to beat a high-class field at Haydock in September, finishing a length-and-a-quarter clear of Lady of the Desert in the Betfred Sprint Cup.
Currently a best priced 9/1 third favourite (behind 8/1 joint-favourites Rocket Man and Star Witness) for the Royal Ascot six-furlong contest, Markab, now rated 116, is expected to be partnered as usual this season by Pat Cosgrave.