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Dubai Honour set to go on his travels after Champion Stakes second

Gallant Champion Stakes runner-up Dubai Honour has several options abroad after his meteoric rise through the ranks.

Beaten in a nursery at York off a mark of 90 this time last year, he has subsequently won three of his five outings including two Group Twos in France.

Having been supplemented for Saturday’s race, he showed he belongs at the highest level when just failing to peg back Sealiway.

“He ran a fantastic race. It got a little bit messy early, but then he got into a nice rhythm. I thought he came to win but the other horse outstayed him in the end,” said his proud trainer William Haggas, who also ran last year’s winner Addeybb and Al Aasy.

“He’d done a lot of running from three (furlongs) out to one out and these are good horses. He gave them a bit of a start on soft ground.

“They’d gone really hard. The plan was for Tom (Marquand) to go forward with Addeybb, but he was a bit fresh and William’s (Buick) horse (Adayar) never left him alone. They got racing and paid for it in the straight.

“The French horse (Sealiway) got a lovely tow into it, but he’s obviously a very smart colt. I thought we were going to get him but his run just petered out.”

As a gelding, Dubai Honour could have a long career ahead of him, with his next start likely to be abroad.

“He’s come such a long way, Dubai Honour. He was fourth in a soft ground nursery at York in October last year and while it was a little unfortunate, he wasn’t desperately unlucky, so you couldn’t envisage the progress he’s made,” said Haggas.

“I’m not trying to say I’m clever at all but that’s the way we train them, to get them to improve – we nurse them at two to try to get them to get better as they get older.

“He’s in the Bahrain race (Bahrain International Trophy) and I had hoped to go there to support it, but he had quite a hard race. He may not run anywhere and may be trained for Dubai.

“He’s a gelding now so has no residual value apart from what he can win on the track. He’s won some decent money already but Hong Kong is very valuable, so is Bahrain and so is Dubai – so they are the options for him.”

As for his other two runners, Haggas said: “I don’t know what happened with Al Aasy.

Addeybb could not repeat his victory of 12 months ago
Addeybb could not repeat his victory of 12 months ago (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s fine but I thought it was tailor-made for him. Good gallop, soft ground but whether going right doesn’t suit him, I don’t know. He never travelled at all so it’s back to the drawing board with him, he is a talented horse.

“As for Addeybb, he’s now rising eight and simply needed a run which I couldn’t get into him. At Ayr the forecast let me down when they said it wasn’t going to rain and it did. It would have been a long way to go and not run. Then we wanted to run at Goodwood but it didn’t rain and was too firm.

“We gave him a serious racecourse gallop at Newmarket which he had a good blow after, but it’s not the same. He was just enthusiastic through the race and Adayar never left him alone.

“I need to discuss his plan with the owners. There’s only one race left for him which is the Premio Roma in Italy and isn’t very valuable, a Group Two race, but he might well run as we’ll find out if he’s as good as he was or if he’s showing his age.

“No disrespect, but if he can’t win that then he doesn’t want to be flogging across the world to Australia. So while it wasn’t my plan, he could go there.”

Al Aasy on trial at Newbury

Al Aasy warms up for a potential tilt at the Qipco Champion Stakes when he has his first start since being gelded at Newbury on Saturday.

The son of Sea The Stars looked destined for the top after registering back-to-back Group Three victories at the Berkshire venue in the spring, and was the 7-4 favourite to make a successful Group One debut in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

But after travelling smoothly into contention, Al Aasy was outbattled by the admirable Pyledriver, and he was then again beaten a neck by Sir Ron Priestley when odds-on for Newmarket’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes.

With connections deciding to take drastic action after that defeat, William Haggas’ four-year-old makes his first appearance in more than two months in the Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup, and his trainer is hoping he can earn himself a possible appearance on Champions Day.

“Since we gelded Al Aasy, this was the race I always had in my mind for him, but I do think he wants soft ground,” said Haggas.

“I’m pleased to get him back on the track, but he’ll be a bit rusty.

“I harbour this desire to have a crack at the Champion Stakes over a mile and a quarter on heavy ground if that is what happens, so he needs a run.

“He’ll be better for the race, but I think he’ll run a good race.”

Al Aasy’s four rivals include his stablemate Ilaraab, who bids to bounce back from a disappointing performance when joint-favourite for last month’s Ebor at York.

Ilaraab (left) joins stablemate Al Aasy at Newbury
Ilaraab (left) joins stablemate Al Aasy at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Haggas added: “Ilaraab never looked happy in the Ebor. He was drawn wide, and it was almost game over really.

“Tom (Marquand) said he took a false step at the top of the straight, and that was it. We’ll see how we get on – Tom’s on board, and we’ve put cheekpieces on him.

“We need to find out where he’s at, because he was such a nice horse last year and started well this season in the Jorvik (Handicap), but then he’s tailed off – so we need to get on with him and make his mind up a bit.”

Andrew Balding’s course winner Foxes Tales, David Simcock’s outsider Ad Infinitum and Sir Michael Stoute’s Winter Hill Stakes scorer Solid Stone complete the field.

Bruce Raymond, racing manager for Solid Stone’s owner Saeed Suhail, said: “He’s been working extremely well. There’s only five runners, and Ryan Moore has got to go to America, so we’ve got William Buick riding – which is always a plus.

“Obviously this is the right race for him. He’s a good, tough horse.”

Hurricane Ivor makes a swift appearance after winning at Doncaster
Hurricane Ivor makes a swift appearance after winning at Doncaster (Mike Egerton/PA)

The other Group Three on the card is the Dubai International Airport World Trophy, which sees the Haggas-trained Hurricane Ivor step up in class after last weekend’s triumph in the Portland Handicap at Doncaster.

“He’s in good form, and obviously the question is whether this comes too soon. I’m just hoping he can win,” said Haggas.

“He’s four years old now and he looks great. He’s taking his racing well, and the only other time I’ve run him back as quick as this he ran a great race at Ascot when just touched off.

“Last week he got a bit too far back – but since he came to us the two key things that have made a difference, I think, have been gelding him and riding him with a bit more restraint.

“I think he likes passing horses, whereas in France he used to lead a lot, and often when they do that for a long time they sort of wait.”

Hurricane Ivor is taken on by Tis Marvellous, bidding to complete a hat-trick for Clive Cox, and the Charlie Hills-trained Khaadem, who claimed his first victory in more than two years in the Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster.

Haggas favours Prix du Moulin target for Baaeed

The Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp remains the most likely next objective for the hugely exciting Baaeed.

In the space of less than two months, the son of Sea The Stars has gone from being an unraced colt to a champion elect – winning at Leicester and twice at Newmarket, before dominating his rivals in the Group Three Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood last week.

A step up to Group One level beckons – and with trainer William Haggas of the opinion that the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday week is likely to come too soon, the Moulin early next month is his favoured option.

Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast, the Newmarket trainer said: “We were very pleased with him (at Goodwood) – and he proved he’s worth a shot at a better race, I think.

“There’s the Jacques le Marois, which I think is too quick, so it’s the Moulin on September 5 or the back-up is the Celebration Mile (at Goodwood on August 28), but I really want to go for a Group One race with him now.

“We have to go to France, and that’s complicated in its own way. If all goes well in Paris, then it’s the QEII (at Ascot) or nothing – if it’s bottomless at Ascot he probably won’t go.

“I’m as excited as you to have a horse of this calibre, but I much prefer for him to do the talking rather than me.

“He’s obviously a talented horse, because every time I throw him in a better race he does better.”

Haggas also provided an update on Al Aasy, who has returned to training after undergoing a gelding operation.

Al Aasy is on the comeback trail
Al Aasy is on the comeback trail (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Narrowly beaten on his last two starts in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, the four-year-old could be prepared for an international campaign.

“Apparently he’s fine. He’s actually back in today,” Haggas added.

“He’s been at Shadwell, recovering from his castration, and he’s been swimming. I feel if he can learn to swim, which apparently he’s very proficient at, then if he does go to Dubai next March they have a 100-metre swimming pool in the quarantine centre he can use.

“He would be able to swim there rather than go on the track, which is quite firm.

“Things have got to be discussed, (but) he might go with Addeybb to Sydney to run in the Tancred Stakes (in April) – he could be quite useful in that sort of race.”

Another Shadwell-owned star based at the Haggas yard is Mohaafeth.

The Frankel colt met with defeat for the first time this season in last month’s Sky Bet York Stakes, but his trainer remains keen on a return to the Knavesmire for the Juddmonte International.

He said: “It was a complete mess at York, I’m afraid – my mistake.

“The pace was too slow, and he was too far behind. My gut feeling is to put a line through it, and have a stab at the Juddmonte.”

Al Aasy set to be gelded and misses King George

Al Aasy is set to miss the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes and undergo a gelding operation after being narrowly beaten for the second time in succession at Newmarket last week.

The son of Sea The Stars looked destined for the top after registering back-to-back Group Three victories at Newbury in the spring and was a hot favourite to make a successful Group One debut in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

But after travelling smoothly into contention, Al Aasy was outbattled by the admirable Pyledriver, and was again beaten a neck by Sir Ron Priestley when odds-on for Newmarket’s Princess of Wales’s Stakes.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate, feels the time has come to take drastic action.

He said: “Al Aasy had every chance to go and win the race last week and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.

“We’re going to give him a bit of a break and we’re probably going to geld him. We know he handles soft ground, so we’ll give him a few weeks off and then bring him back in the autumn. The King George is definitely out.

“He’s got plenty of talent, he’s just a bit of a thug. Going out on the track, he makes it difficult for whoever is on board.”

Once Al Aasy has been gelded and enjoyed a mid-season break, he could be prepared for international targets.

Al Aasy (left) and Pyledriver fight out the finish to the Coronation Cup
Al Aasy (left) and Pyledriver fight out the finish to the Coronation Cup (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“Of course we could keep him entire and hope that he’s going to make a stallion somewhere in due course, but it’s more important for Sheikha Hissa and her family to have these horses to race now,” Gold added.

“This horse could win a lot of money in Dubai or Australia or wherever. We’ve had discussions about it and it’s more his attitude and general demeanour before a race (that is a problem).

“I wasn’t there last week, but William said he got pretty colty beforehand again, so let’s just take the guessing out of the equation.

“We’re going to send him out to the stud for three weeks to freshen him up, so I think it will be September before he runs again.”

Sir Ron Priestley battles hard to repel Al Aasy

Sir Ron Priestley returned to winning ways when seeing off the persistent challenge of Al Aasy in the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

Franny Norton set out to make all on Mark Johnston’s five-year-old, who is a half-brother to Gold Cup-winning stablemate Subjectivist.

With two furlongs to run, Sir Ron Priestley was being ridden – but not as vigorously as Highest Ground, who dropped away.

The odds-on favourite Al Aasy, normally a very smooth traveller, came off the bridle earlier than normal but still moved up to challenge as they met the rising ground.

In typical Johnston style, Sir Ron Priestley kept on battling against the rail – but Jim Crowley had still to ask for everything on Al Aasy.

However, as the line neared it, became obvious Al Aasy was up against a very determined opponent and would have to settle for second again – just as he did in last month’s Coronation Cup at Epsom.

Sir Ron Priestley (100-30) prevailed by a neck.

Johnston was relieved to see his 2019 St Leger runner-up return to his best after two lacklustre efforts of late, at this same Group Two level, since his victory in Newmarket’s Jockey Club Stakes.

“You couldn’t have any expectations, because he has had two disappointing runs – there’s no getting away from it,” said the Middleham trainer.

“After he won on the Rowley Mile course earlier in the year, we thought he’d be going a mile and six plus – so I didn’t really expect him to be here today.

“But those two runs left us scratching our heads – we’re still scratching our heads.”

The most likely explanation remains elusive for Johnston.

He said: “The easy answer is to say it’s the ground, and he needs a fast surface, but if you don’t like the ground you don’t like it throughout the race – not just in the last furlong or two – and at York this horse travelled to the front two out like he was going to walk all over them, and he didn’t get home.

“He was second in the St Leger and had a year off, and we were dreaming of Cup races. Now, we just don’t know (trip-wise) – we’ve got a very open mind.”

Johnston, whose brilliant Royal Ascot hero Subjectivist has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with an injured right foreleg, will consider further big-race targets over a variety of distances for Sir Ron Priestley.

“We said at the start of the year the Irish St Leger would be the principal target for him,” he added.

“But he’s in the King George – and if that was to go like the Eclipse, with a small field, we wouldn’t rule it out.

“We haven’t had a chance to speak to Paul Dean (owner) yet, but there is a vague possibility of supplementing for the Goodwood Cup.”

Al Aasy seeks starring role at Newmarket

Al Aasy is the star attraction in the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

The Sea The Stars colt was hugely impressive in winning his first two starts of the season at Newbury – and was a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group One level in last month’s Coronation Cup at Epsom.

But having looked sure to prevail after coming from the rear of the field to lead inside the final furlong, the four-year-old was pegged back by the admirable Pyledriver and had to make do with minor honours.

Trainer William Haggas last week suggested he was in favour of waiting for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes on July 24 with Al Aasy, but the prospect of suitable ground conditions on Thursday and his colt’s well-being has prompted a change of heart.

He said: “I’m happy to run him. I was thinking of waiting for Ascot, but I’ve changed my mind.

“He’s in good form, and I think ground should be fine. We’ve had some decent showers, and everybody has been saying we need the rain, so I should think it will be lovely ground.

“It’s not going to be firm and it’s not going to be soft – it’ll be fine.”

Al Aasy’s biggest threat on ratings is Mark Johnston’s Sir Ron Priestley.

Sir Ron Priestley needs to bounce back to form
Sir Ron Priestley needs to bounce back to form (Tim Goode/PA)

The five-year-old beat the aforementioned Pyledriver in the Jockey Club Stakes on the Rowley Mile in May, since when he has finished third in the Yorkshire Cup and seventh in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Charlie Appleby’s Star Safari makes his first appearance since finishing sixth in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan in March, having won a Group Three on his previous start.

“Star Safari put up some progressive performances out in Dubai earlier in the year, winning the Dubai Millennium Stakes and running well in the Dubai Sheema Classic,” Appleby told www.godolphin.com.

“We felt that this was a nice starting point for him ahead of some potential targets in Europe.”

Highest Ground (Sir Michael Stoute) and Bangkok (Andrew Balding) complete the line-up.

Al Aasy declared for Princess of Wales’s Stakes

Al Aasy is among a field of five for Thursday’s Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

William Haggas’ four-year-old has had a good first half of the season, winning twice at Newbury and finishing a narrow second to Pyledriver in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

The Shadwell-owned colt runs here ahead of a possible crack at the King George And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot.

Mark Johnston’s Sir Ron Priestley, a half-brother to Gold Cup winner Subjectivist, has to concede 3lb to Al Aasy due to his victory in the Jockey Club Stakes.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Highest Ground has always had a tall reputation, but needs to bounce back after disappointing in the Hardwicke Stakes last time out.

Andrew Balding’s Bangkok steps back up to a mile and a half for the first time since finishing second in the King Edward VII as a three-year-old.

Star Safari, trained by Charlie Appleby, has his first outing since finishing a respectable sixth in the Dubai Sheema Classic.

Johnston runs two in the Bahrain Trophy, prolific winner Dancing King, who saw his four-race streak come to an end in the Queen’s Vase, and Gear Up, a Group One winner last year but yet to reach those heights this season.

Gear Up was a Group One winner in France last season
Gear Up was a Group One winner in France last season (David Davies/PA)

Brian Meehan runs the unexposed Mandoob who has won both his starts to date, Appleby is represented by Yibir, second to subsequent Irish Derby runner-up Lone Eagle last time out with Queen’s Vase third Stowell running for John and Thady Gosden. Pleasant Man is in action for Roger Charlton.

There are 11 runners in the Tattersalls July Stakes, including Coventry runner-up Eldrickjones.

Plenty of others who ran at Ascot clash, with Bryan Smart’s Project Dante, third in the Norfolk Stakes, Hugo Palmer’s pair of Dig Two and Ebro River, who were second in the Windsor Castle and fifth in the Coventry respectively, and Tolstoy for the Gosdens.

Joe Tuite is hoping for better things from The Organiser who was unplaced in the Coventry Stakes following an easy debut win.

“I hope he runs better than he did at Ascot, the race didn’t pan out right for him,” said Tuite.

“He locked on, ran too keen and ran his race back to front, it wasn’t the plan to ride him like that.

“Hopefully he gets more cover. Considering the race didn’t go his way I didn’t think he ran too bad at Ascot.

“We think he’s up to this type of level, he’s in very good form so we’ll see what we can do.”

Aleezdancer, Asymmetric and Lusail are others to note, while in the Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes Maximal and One Ruler clash with the promising Baaeed, among others.

Al Aasy retains option of Newmarket before King George tilt

Al Aasy is the star name among nine confirmations for the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket on Thursday.

Hugely impressive in winning his first two starts of the season at Newbury, the William Haggas-trained four-year-old was a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group One level in the Coronation Cup at Epsom last month, but was beaten a neck by the popular Pyledriver.

Connections of Al Aasy have already identified the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on July 24 as his main midsummer target and a decision is pending on whether he will first contest the Group Two feature on the opening day of Newmarket’s July Festival.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate, said: “We have left both Al Aasy and Hukum in in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes and we’ll see what happens over the next few days.

“With Hukum we were always intending to come here and Al Aasy is certainly a possible. Obviously the main aim with Al Aasy is the King George and I spoke to William at the beginning of this week and he said he was going to give him a bit of work and monitor him.

“If he’s fresh and bouncing and he feels he needs another run before Ascot, we have the option of running at Newmarket, but if he feels he’d be better going straight to Ascot then we will do that.”

If Al Aasy does sidestep Newmarket, Owen Burrows’ Hukum appears a more than able deputy judged on his third-placed finish in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.

“I think Hukum has earned his spot there – that’s an obvious sort of place for him,” Gold added.

Haggas has a potential second string to his bow in Ilaraab, while Sir Michael Stoute’s Highest Ground and the Mark Johnston-trained Sir Ron Priestley also feature, together with Bangkok from Andrew Balding’s yard.

Mandoob (right) winning at Lingfield
Mandoob (right) winning at Lingfield (John Walton/PA)

The first Pattern race on the opening day of the three-day meeting is the Group Three Bahrain Trophy, in which the Shadwell colours could be carried by the unbeaten Mandoob.

The Farhh gelding has won each of his two starts for Brian Meehan and ground conditions on the July course will decide whether he steps up in grade for the hat-trick bid.

Gold said: “This is certainly the plan, but I know he’s a horse who would certainly want good or easier ground, so it depends on the weather between now and then.

“He’s nice horse and a progressive horse, but he wouldn’t run if it was good to firm.”

Mandoob’s potential rivals include Johnston’s Gear Up, Charlie Appleby’s Yibir and Stowell from John and Thady Gosden’s yard.

Jadhlaan impressive at York last month
Jadhlaan impressive at York last month (Tim Goode/PA)

Group Two honours are up for grabs in the Tattersalls July Stakes, which has attracted 15 juveniles.

Bryan Smart’s Project Dante just about sets the standard after finishing a close-up third behind Perfect Power and subsequent winner Go Bears Go in the Norfolk Stakes at the Royal meeting, while Shadwell could be represented by Johnston-trained York winner Jadhlaan.

“He is certainly a possible, which is why we put him in,” said Gold.

“I always felt this horse would love to go six furlongs and Mark rather agreed with me, (but) Franny (Norton) rode him the other day and said he actually thought he had plenty of speed for five.

“It would give us more options if he can go six furlongs, so we said we’d put him in and see how he is.”

The colours of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum are also well represented in the Listed Edmondson Hall Solicitors Sir Henry Cecil Stakes, with both Baaeed (Haggas) and Mostahdaf (Gosden) in contention.

Baaeed followed up a debut victory at Leicester with a dominant display over this course and distance last month, while Mostahdaf lost his unbeaten record when finishing down the field in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

Gold added: “Baaeed is an exciting horse, hopefully. He’s Hukum’s brother and at this stage looks to have a bit more speed than Hukum.

“His whole career is hopefully ahead of him. He’s come out twice now and won really impressively both times, so the plan was always to go here with him.

“With Mostahdaf, the plan after Ascot was to step him up to a mile and a quarter. John (Gosden) wanted to go for the Prix Eugene Adam in France, but it’s so complicated at the moment getting horses and jockeys and staff to France – the whole thing is a bit of a nightmare.

“As I understand it, there are very few options for three-year-olds only over a mile and a quarter, so we decided we’d put him in here and then see what options there are.”

Ascot victor Mohaafeth handed York Stakes mission

The Sky Bet York Stakes is next on the agenda for Royal Ascot hero Mohaafeth.

The son of Frankel emerged as a leading contender for the Derby after winning his first three starts of the season, but was taken out of the premier Classic at Epsom on the day of the race due to unsuitable ground.

William Haggas instead sent his exciting colt to the Royal meeting where he ran out an impressive winner of the Hampton Court Stakes – and he is now set to step up to Group Two level on the Knavesmire.

With jockey Jim Crowley likely to be at Ascot to ride stablemate Al Aasy in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes on the same afternoon, Dane O’Neill is poised to take over in the saddle aboard Mohaafeth at York.

Haggas told Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday: “We knocked the Eclipse on the head last weekend and he’s going to go for the Sky Bet race at York on July 24, which is unfortunate for Jim, but good for Dane, because that’s the same day as the King George.

“The horse that won the King Edward (Alenquer) is hopefully going for the Grand Prix de Paris on July 14, so we’ve got a busy few weeks coming up.”

Al Aasy in action at Newbury
Al Aasy in action at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Al Aasy has the option of warming up for the King George in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket next week, but appears unlikely to take up the engagement.

“The King George is very much the plan. Whether he goes for the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, I’m not sure – I doubt it. He’ll probably go straight for the King George,” Haggas added.

“He worked beautifully again yesterday and is on target to go where we want him. We just have to decide whether going to Newmarket might take the edge off him for Ascot, which wouldn’t be sensible.

“My gut feeling is he’ll probably go straight to Ascot.”

Al Aasy booked for King George date at Ascot

William Haggas is beginning to plan both Al Aasy and Mohaafeth’s Group One assignments next month following their contrasting fortunes at Epsom and Royal Ascot respectively.

Haggas reports the two Shadwell Estate colts have recovered well from their exertions, with Sandown’s Coral-Eclipse still in the mix for Mohaafeth and Al Aasy on course for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Al Aasy was last seen at Epsom, in the Coronation Cup, but failed by a neck to justify favouritism in search of his first Group One success after starting his campaign with two impressive Newbury victories at Group Three level.

He is set to try again at Ascot on July 24 – and while Mohaafeth also has a King George entry, he is likely to stick to 10 furlongs when he tries Group One company for the first time, potentially at Sandown on July 3.

It was a surprise to many that Al Aasy narrowly failed to cope with Pyledriver at Epsom, but Haggas confirmed the plan remains to head to Ascot in a month’s time – when he may well face the same opponent again, along with several more of the best middle-distance horses in training.

“I was a bit disappointed he didn’t win,” he said.

“But we all get disappointed if we don’t win. But he’s fine, and he’s going to go for the King George.

“There’ll be plenty of opposition in that.”

Mohaafeth in winning action at Royal Ascot
Mohaafeth in winning action at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

The Newmarket trainer made a difficult call to miss the Derby with much-improved Mohaafeth when rain arrived and the ground went against him at Epsom – a decision which was vindicated by a commanding success for the son of Frankel on a sound surface in last week’s Hampton Court Stakes.

As for Mohaafeth’s Eclipse date, the Newmarket trainer added: “We hope so. It’s not set in stone – we’ll see how he is (nearer the time).

“He had a hard race at Ascot, so we’ll see.

“They both seem absolutely fine, they’re good.”

Al Aasy to skip Hardwicke Stakes

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.

Roberto Escobarr has a return to York on the agenda
Roberto Escobarr has a return to York on the agenda (Tim Goode/PA)

“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.”

Haggas readies strong challenge in Hardwicke Stakes

William Haggas holds a strong hand in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot – with Al Aasy, Ilaraab and Pablo Escobarr all engaged.

Al Aasy started the season with effortless wins at Newbury and came with what looked a winning run in the Coronation Cup at Epsom only to go down narrowly to Pyledriver.

Ilaraab has risen startlingly through the handicap ranks and has won the last six of his seven career outings, most recently at York by three lengths from a mark of 102.

In the same Shadwell colours as Al Aasy among Saturday’s possible contenders is the Owen Burrows-trained Hukum, who impressed when winning a Listed race at Goodwood last time out.

David Menuisier has entered his dual Group One-winning filly Wonderful Tonight, who has yet to be seen this season. The Frenchman will be hoping the weather forecast is right and that it is a wet end to the week.

Aidan O’Brien could run the Melbourne Cup runner-up Tiger Moth, Broome, Japan or the filly Passion – while Joseph O’Brien has left in Master Of Reality.

Sir Ron Priestley, Highest Ground and the 2019 St Leger winner Logician are others among the 19 remaining possibles.

Final Song and Snazzy Jazzy top the 63 left in the Wokingham.

Among a host of others to note are Andrew Balding’s Chil Chil, David Evans’ improving three-year-old Rohaan and the Michael Dods-trained Pendleton.

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s unbeaten filly Bellosa is one of 27 in the Jersey Stakes.

She could come up against Charlie Appleby’s Creative Force, Archie Watson’s Mehmento and Charlie Hills’ Mutasaabeq – who was last seen in the Guineas.

Appleby is also set to saddle his smart-looking juvenile New Science in the Chesham Stakes.

Aidan O’Brien’s Point Lonsdale, Andrew Balding’s Masekela and Michael Bell’s Great Max are others who created big impressions on debut.

Siskany and Tamborrada also give Appleby a strong hand in the Golden Gates Handicap – while Chester Cup winner Falcon Eight is one of 30 in the closing Queen Alexandra Stakes.

Al Aasy team to let dust settle following Coronation defeat

Connections of Al Aasy have yet to firm up plans for his next outing following his narrow defeat in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

The William Haggas-trained four-year-old was a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group One level, having dominated his rivals in the successive Group Three races at Newbury this spring.

The Sea The Stars colt looked sure to prevail after coming from the rear to lead in the final furlong, but was ultimately beaten a neck by the rallying Pyledriver, with the pair pulling clear of dual Group One winner Japan in third.

Angus Gold, racing manager for Al Aasy’s owners Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, said: “Having gone a neck up, it was disappointing not to maintain it. Anyway, he ran a good race and they were seven lengths clear.

“If you took the winner out he’d have won on the bridle and everybody would be saying what a good horse he was.

“We’ll regroup and see how he comes out of it and then make a plan.”

Al Aasy holds an entry in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot next week, while the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the end of July will also be considered.

Gold also raised the possibility of Al Aasy dropping back in trip before the end of the year.

He added: “The one thing I would say in the horse’s defence is they’ve always said to me he shows a lot of speed in his work. He got outstayed the other day. Whether he didn’t quite home, I’m not sure.

“There is a possibility he might come back to a mile and a quarter at some stage. I think we need to run him over a mile and a half on a more conventional track, hopefully on less severe ground, and see where we are.

“I would imagine it (Hardwicke Stakes) would be too soon, but I haven’t spoken to William about it yet. It will be that or the King George, or we decide to drop him back in trip and go for something shorter.”

Later on the same afternoon the Shadwell team had high hopes of claiming Classic glory with Zeyaadah in the Cazoo Oaks, but Roger Varian’s filly ultimately disappointed behind the brilliant Snowfall.

Zeyaadah (left) was well beaten in the Oaks
Zeyaadah (left) was well beaten in the Oaks (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“She certainly didn’t get home, but having said that she wouldn’t have won it at a mile and a quarter,” said Gold.

“It would have taken something to win the race – she (Snowfall) was thoroughly impressive.

“My own feeling is I’ve never thought of her as an Oaks filly. I think back to our previous Oaks winners and I would have been surprised to have put her in that category.

“I think she’s a very nice, tough filly. We’ll bring her back to a mile and a quarter for a Group Three or Group Two, again on a more conventional track.

“We’ll look for options later in the summer. She can always go back up in class if she merits it.”

Al Aasy tops Coronation Cup field

Al Aasy heads seven contenders for Friday’s Coral Coronation Cup at Epsom.

William Haggas’ four-year-old is a hot favourite to strike Group One gold at the first time of asking following two comfortable Group Three successes this term, in the John Porter and Aston Park Stakes, both at Newbury.

Al Aasy will not have it all his own way though, with Aidan O’Brien fielding two top-class performers in full-brothers Mogul and Japan.

Japan returned to form with victory in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester last month, while Mogul has finished seventh in the Dubai Sheema Classic and third in the Prix Ganay in his two 2021 starts so far.

Both are no strangers to Epsom, with Japan having finished third in the 2019 Derby, while Mogul was seventh in the Classic last year.

Another horse familiar with the Downs is Pyledriver, who represents William Muir and Chris Grassick.

Pyledriver winning the Great Voltigeur at York last season
Pyledriver winning the Great Voltigeur at York last season (David Davies/PA)

The four-year-old endured a luckless run in last year’s Derby, but did strike Group Two gold at Royal Ascot and York, before finishing a fine third in the St Leger at Doncaster.

He warmed up for this outing by chasing home Sir Ron Priestley at Newmarket last month.

The Kirsten Rausing-owned pair of Alpinista and Albaflora, trained by Sir Mark Prescott and Ralph Beckett respectively, plus Highland Chief from Paul and Oliver Cole’s yard complete the line-up.

Al Aasy and Love feature in Coronation Cup confirmations

Hot favourite Al Aasy and dual Classic-winning filly Love are among 11 confirmations for the Coral Coronation Cup at Epsom on Friday.

The William Haggas-trained Al Aasy is a warm order to successfully step up to Group One level, having looked every inch a top-class colt in winning successive Group Three prizes at Newbury this spring.

Love, who was a brilliant winner of both the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Oaks at Epsom last season, has not been seen in competitive action since winning the Yorkshire Oaks in August.

Love was an imperious winner of the Oaks
Love was an imperious winner of the Oaks (Megan Ridgwell/PA)

Aidan O’Brien recently raised the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot as her likely comeback target, but she retains the option of returning to Epsom next week.

The Ballydoyle handler, who has saddled a record eight previous winners of the Coronation Cup, has also confirmed Broome, Japan, Mogul and last year’s Derby hero Serpentine.

Should Love not make the trip across the Irish Sea, Japan would look to be O’Brien’s chief contender after making a winning start to his campaign in Chester’s Ormonde Stakes.

Pyledriver showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with last year
Pyledriver showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with last year (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Pyledriver is set to represent William Muir and his training partner Chris Grassick.

The Harbour Watch colt won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Great Voltigeur at York last summer and made a promising reappearance when runner-up in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in early May.

Highland Chief (Paul and Oliver Cole), potential French raider In Swoop (Francis-Henri Graffard) and Kirsten Rausing-owned fillies Albaflora (Ralph Beckett) and Alpinista (Sir Mark Prescott) are the other hopefuls.