Promising Almaqam makes an impression in Heron Stakes

Almaqam knuckled down when it mattered most to secure a convincing victory in the Chasemore Farm Stud Staff Heron Stakes at Sandown.

Ed Walker’s colt had caused a few problems in the preliminaries to the one-mile Listed event, but turned in a professional performance out on the track to prevail by three and three-quarter lengths at 7-1.

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William Buick was happy to flank the pacesetting Son early on but moved to the head of affairs when that runner lost ground by swinging very wide on the turn.

A furlong out, everything was to play for as Frankel’s half-brother Kikkuli and Ice Max tried to lay down a challenge, but Almaqam had lots more left in the tank and ultimately powered away in the closing stages.

This contest has been won in the past by some elite-level performers, including the likes of Kris, Kalanisi, Proclamation and Without Parole, and Almaqam was cut to as short as 16-1 with Coral for the St James’s Palace Stakes, although his trainer could opt to go up in trip at the Royal meeting.

Walker said: “I’m very happy, I was really impressed with how he hit the line so strongly in that ground. We were worried about the ground, I think everyone was worried about the ground, but he did it really well.

“I think 10 furlongs won’t be an issue, so we’ll see. That was a huge step forward, that was a strong race. I know plenty of horses may not have acted on the ground, sometimes those races can be a question of who acts best on the ground and you can be made to look better than you are, but he’s done nothing wrong in his career.

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“He’s very straightforward, he’s a beautiful horse. I’m very grateful to His Highness Sheikh Ahmed (Al Maktoum) for sending him to me.

“It’ll be the St James’s Palace or the Hampton Court – I’m not sure yet.”

Of Kikkuli, trainer Harry Charlton said: “I’m very pleased with the run on that ground. He wouldn’t have enjoyed the going and I think a mile on better ground will suit him. There’s loads more to come.”

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