ANNIKE BYE HANSEN
Al Buraq - improver of the year
Al Buraq was a dream come true in 2019. No, she was not a top class performer chasing black type and big prize money for her owner-breeder Stall Jersey, but she did more than what could be expected of her, with five wins and a 10kg climb in the handicap.
We can safely say that Al Buraq is the opposite to the aforementioned Aconcagua – she meets the new season on handicap 76, and, unless she keeps on improving, she will find life lot harder in 2020. The decision to keep her in training, rather than retire her to the paddocks, was indeed a sporting one. Al Buraq's five wins came in handicaps ranging from 1370 metres to 1600 metres, on turf and dirt, and she also ran third in a competitive handicap over 2400 metres (after her first three wins, which were taken on the bounce). Al Buraq also travelled to Bro Park in Sweden, where she closed her season out with a game win over 1400 metres on the dirt track. With two third place finishes, she produced a remarkable 43.7 top three strike rate. Handicappers simply aren't supposed to do what she did in 2019, and it seemed a bit strange that she was not rewarded with the Handicapper of The Year title at the annual awards dinner. The again, that she lost that fight, probably in a photo finish, says a lot about how competitive this game can be. Also for the handicap runners, those wonderful horses that keep the the show on the road. A daughter of Crocker Road out of the good broodmare Vista Hermosa, Al Buraq is a full-sister to the late developing Peer Gynt, who is also trained by Annike and picked up one win from eight starts in 2019. GS 18 Feb 20
Al Buraq, 'miss versatile'
And then she had five...
Bro Park 1 Dec 19: Al Buraq, who closed her local campaign out with a fourth win of the year at Øvrevoll last moth, was not done for the year. Annike sent her across to Bro Park for a crack at a nice handicap over 1400 metres on the dirt track on Sunday. Was it a bridge too far? Was it too sharp a distance perhaps? No, and no again - Al Buraq and Alan Wallace prevailed once more, this time by 2 lengths from Across The Pond. Her fifth win of the year in the bag, and 40,000 kronor added to her account. She may be a handicap runner, but Al Buraq has developed to be one of the finest - and we can safely now give her the title "Miss Versatile". It would be hard to find a rival to it!
Photo: Elina Bjorklund / Svensk Galopp
Al Buraq's fourth win of the year
Øvrevoll 17 Nov 2019: The last day of the season saw yet another winner for Annike, as she saddled the lovely Crocker Road filly Al Buraq to win for a fourth time this year. Al Buraq, racing for her breeder Stall Jersey, came from off the pace in Norsk Forening For Fullblodsavl Handicap over 1600 metres, to gain a solid win, beating this year's Derby runner-up Hampus G readily by 2 lengths. Al Buraq was ridden by Alan Wallace. Earning 43,200 kroner, she increased her bankroll to 430,668 kroner. This four-year-old filly, a daughter of Vista Hermosa (Acclamation), has developed into a thoroughly game and consistent runner this season, with 4 wins and 2 placed efforts from 14 runs.
This win meant that Annike rounded her 2019 campaign off with 20 winners from 110 runners. An impressive season is thus in the books. The first time starter Nominado, a son of Crocker Road out of the outstanding mare Theatrical Award, ran a most promising third on the same day, while Sweet Pearl was second to C'Est La Vie later on the card.
Photo: Al Buraq (Hesteguiden)
Al Buraq and Peer Gynt set to meet
Siblings in the same race
5 Nov 2019: It does not happen very often in thoroughbred racing, but on this coming Thursday evening, the penultimate raceday of the season at Øvrevoll, full siblings will compete in the same race - as Al Buraq meets her younger brother Peer Gynt in Devilry Løp, a handicap over 1750 metres. Annike, who is set for a busy evening, will also saddle We Got The Boss for the same contest.
Six other stable companions will run in other races; Swedish Dream, Mestre dos Magos, Sweet Pearl and Calcaterre all going for glory in Eliteløp over the same distance, while Acongagua (Desert Warrior Løp, 1100 metres) and Karen From Finance (Directa Lubeca løp, 1600 m.) round out our strong team. "These nine horses are all in fine form, they are set for a five-month rest after this", Annike comments, "and it is important that we (the trainers) help out with filling the fields on end of season racedays".
Three runners - two winners!
Øvrevoll 11 July 2019: Our excellent run of form continues. We had three runners on this summer evening and two of them ended up in the winners' circle. Al Buraq, gaining her second win of the term, was rewarded with 57,600 kroner for her impressive display in the Norsk Rikstoto Cup, run over 1600 metres. Ridden by Carlos Lopez, the Stall Jersey owned four-year-old was well on top at the finish, scoring comfortably by 4 1/2 lengths from Roman Princess.
Calcaterre (photo: hesteguiden.com), partnered by Dale Swift, captured the Lach Cup, staged over 1170 metres on the turf course. Shouldering 68 kg (151 pounds), he delivered some performance, beating Pirlo (59 kg) by a length and a half. The winner's slice of the purse in this event was 26,880 kroner.
Ginseng, our third runner this evening, ran respectably to finish fourth in the La Zona Løp over 2160 metres, with Carlos Lopez in the irons. The firm going was not quite to her liking and she ran well under the circumstances. GS
Stall Jersey's Al Buraq
looking very strong
Øvrevoll 12 June 2019: Al Buraq found winning form over 1730 metres on a rather testing turf course. The four-year-old filly was out the back early on in the contest, as Carlos Lopez gave her a patient ride. She finished by far the best through the last two furlongs, and battled on to a gutsy win, beating the in-form Deecider by a length, with Prince Field back in third.
Her third career success,
showing stamina beyond her pedigree
This was Al Buraq's third win from 23 outings and brought her earnings to 268,195 kroner. Her two previous wins were gained on the dirt track, over 1100 metres as a juvenile and over 1750 metres last season, when her best handicap mark was 71 kg. Al Buraq, a neat, attractive daughter of Crocker Road, displayed stamina in this race and she could well prove effective over even further - though her pedigree says otherwise. Her dam, Vista Hermosa (Acclamation), also racing in Stall Jersey's colours, was a very useful performer, winning four races over 1100 metres and 1200 metres (on turf and dirt). She was a daughter of a top class sprinter out of Mizillablack (by Eagle Eyed), who won over 5 furlongs in England at two and was never tried over further than 6 furlongs. Geir Stabell