William Haggas has decided against running his Coronation Cup runner-up Al Aasy in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
After two easy Group Three wins at Newbury this season, Al Aasy was stepped up in class at Epsom this month and looked like collecting a first Group One win only to be worn down close home by Pyledriver.
He was a surprise entry in Saturday’s Group Two, but Haggas has decided not to run him back quickly after all. The Newmarket handler is still likely to field two Hardwicke contenders in Pablo Escobarr and the prolific winner Ilaraab, who will appreciate the forecast rain if it arrives at the end of the week.
“I only put Al Aasy in late – thinking if it was soft ground then he should be there – but the Epsom into Ascot is a hard one, and he doesn’t need to do it,” said Haggas.
“Pablo will definitely run and will run in a visor, and Ilaraab will run if the word ‘soft’ appears in the going description.”
Haggas celebrated an encouraging victory at York on Saturday with Roberto Escobarr – who earned a ticket into the Ebor back on the Knavesmire – but the trainer feels offering such incentive in a Listed race could be counter-productive.
“I don’t know about the Ebor,” he said.
“He went up to 107 and he is going to go back to York for a Group Three race in July.
“He’ll go and run in that, and we’ll take it from there.
“I’m not so sure the ‘win and you’re in’ races are working. If you’re going to win the Listed race you’re going to be rated in the 100s already.
“I wonder if they ought to do a bonus rather than ‘win and you’re in’ – because if they offered, let’s say, £100,000 bonus then you get a good field for the Listed race – but as it was, it was a weak turnout. For me he was the only one who could win, because the others were either out of form or wanted soft ground.
“He actually struggled a bit – I didn’t think he was very impressive. He may have been flattered but he’s a nice horse. He’s in the Northumberland Plate, but I think that will come too quick.”