Al Aasy in cruise control – now Coronation Cup beckons

Al Aasy oozed class and is now a short price for the Coronation Cup following what amounted to a victory stroll in the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.

Sent off the 10-11 favourite for the Group Three following a similarly impressive display in the John Porter earlier in the year, the four-year-old faced stiffer opposition this time.

Last year’s Dante winner Thunderous and 2019 St Leger winner Logician were among the opposition – but Jim Crowley did not move in the saddle as the William Haggas-trained colt breezed to a four-length success.

Thunderous chased him home, but the winning distance could easily have been doubled.

“He won very well. He settled well and won very well and I can’t really say more than that, as he looks like that at home – he’s a talented horse,” said Haggas, who has never hidden his admiration for his charge.

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“He’s done well this year and we’ll find out in the Coronation Cup – as that is where he is going next – how good he is.

“They never get quick ground at Epsom and we’ve got one in the Derby (Mohaafeth) that needs it quick and it is bound to rain for him – if it does that will suit Al Aasy.

“He didn’t surprise me. We were really gutted with him in the Gordon Stakes last year, but that race was a mess and the ground was very quick.

“He’s talented and is in everything we could possibly put him in. We’ll put him in the Arc, but there’s a long way to go before then.

“I’d fancy coming back to 10 (furlongs) with him, but I’m not sure. He’s pretty good at a mile and a half and there are some pretty nice races at that trip, starting with Epsom and then Ascot in the summer (King George).

“If he’s going to run in the Arc he’ll need a break at some stage. I wasn’t going to run him today, I was going to go straight to Epsom, but he needed a race as he was too well.

“He’s got a long way to go, he’s won two Group Threes, but he’s a good horse.

“He’s a very enthusiastic horse, but the good thing is in both races this year he’s dropped the bridle. Jim is getting his confidence in him now which we’ve always had, but he – quite rightly – had lost a bit after Goodwood.”

Crowley was equally as impressed and said: “He’s a monster of a horse, I just had a double handful throughout.

“He’s a bit of a handful and I think that is why William wanted to give him another race, but he gave me a great ride – he sort of dragged me to the front.

“You don’t get many horses give you that sort of feel. He appreciated the cut in the ground, but hopefully he hasn’t stopped improving.

“We’ll see where we go from Epsom.”

Paddy Power initially cut Al Aasy into 2-1 (from 9-2) for the Coronation Cup, but were forced to go shorter still at 7-4.

Logician and Al Aasy lock horns in Al Rayyan

A Classic winner for whom the sky was thought to be the limit and a horse expected to go to the top himself are set to clash in a fascinating Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury.

When Logician powered down the Doncaster straight to lift the St Leger under Frankie Dettori in 2019 he was seen as a real player for all the big middle-distance races to come the following year – a threat even to mighty stablemate Enable.

But he was struck by serious illness, one that put his life in danger, and just getting him back to the track has been an achievement.

That came in September last year back at Doncaster – a year on from his Leger demolition – and he looked to have retained his ability in winning a match race as he liked, beating the 107-rated Mythical Magic by seven lengths.

Frankie Dettori celebrates Leger glory with Logician
Frankie Dettori celebrates Leger glory with Logician (Clint Hughes/PA)

Rather than fly too high, John Gosden opted for a Group Three assignment at York next, the relocated Cumberland Lodge Stakes – but the son of Frankel ran way below par and was a well-beaten last of four to Euchen Glen, at odds of 1-3.

No explanation has come to light, so connections will know much more about his future after Saturday’s Group Three test, where the William Haggas-trained Al Aasy is expected to be a serious stumbling block, as he limbers up for the Coronation Cup.

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Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager for the late Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte operation, feels Logician still has a big future ahead.

He said: “We’re still a bit mystified why he ran so poorly at York on his last start in the Cumberland Lodge. He checked out fine and has had a straightforward winter.

“I think older horses always tend to take a little bit longer to come to hand, especially a horse who has had time off.

“With each of his works, he’s improved. He obviously had that severe peritonitis over the winter of 2019-20, and that is serious.

“He came back, albeit in a two-horse race at Doncaster, and looked to be back on track. Then nothing went to plan at York.

“We’ve always had faith in him, and Prince Khalid and the family were excited about him and wanted to give him every chance.

“He went nicely under Frankie (Dettori, last weekend), so hopefully this will prove a step forward.

“We know he’s got that talent, and he’s in the right hands.”

Al Aasy was an easy winner on his comeback at Newbury
Al Aasy was an easy winner on his comeback at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Al Aasy, meanwhile, has long been the apple of his trainer’s eye, and it was easy to see why in his striking victory in the John Porter over this course and distance last month.

Angus Gold, racing manager to the Shadwell Estate Company, said: “Al Aasy ran very well at Newbury first time out, and William has been happy with him since.

“We will see how he gets on this weekend at Newbury and take it from there, but William had planned to go to the Coronation Cup.

“At Goodwood last year, when he was last in the Gordon Stakes, nothing appeared to come to light – but he was a very immature horse physically, and maybe it all came quick enough.

“William did the sensible thing and gave him plenty of time off, and hopefully it will pay off this year – which it looks like it is.”

The big two are part of a field of six, which includes last year’s Dante winner Thunderous (Mark Johnston).

Also featuring are Asiaaf (David Simcock), Rainbow Dreamer (Alan King) and Ranch Hand (Andrew Balding).

Al Aasy poised for Newbury before tackling Coronation Cup

Al Aasy is in such good form at home he has persuaded William Haggas to run him in the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury on May 15.

Haggas was going to send the impressive John Porter winner straight to the Coronation Cup at Epsom – but he has been burning up the gallops at home and will return to Berkshire for the race registered as the Aston Park.

“I was going to wait for the Coronation Cup, but he’s too well so he’s going to run next Saturday in a Group Three back at Newbury on Lockinge day,” said Haggas.

“That will give us three weeks to Epsom. He worked beautifully this (Wednesday) morning. He’s a very impressive horse at home.

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“He wouldn’t go over the top (if he didn’t run at Newbury), but he might get a bit fresh and silly. He needs racing, that horse, he didn’t race much last year.

“I don’t like carrying penalties in stakes races, but this race is a good fit – I don’t want to go further up in trip for the Yorkshire Cup and I think the Coronation Cup is the right race.

“He’s very powerful and everything is easy for him, we’ll see how good he is soon enough but at the moment he’s an impressive horse.”

Stablemate My Oberon may skip the Lockinge on the same day in favour of a trip to France.

Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast, Haggas said: “I’m debating about him. I really want to go for the Prix d’Ispahan on May 30 and I can’t do both.

“I want to go up in trip with him and he’s in the Prince of Wales’s and I’ll put him in the Eclipse.

My Oberon has big-race options
My Oberon has big-race options (Dan Abraham/PA)

“If he’s going to improve enough to be a proper horse, he’s got to do it going up in trip. He was good at Newmarket over nine and I’m just not sure taking on Palace Pier is the right way round.

“I think if we go for a nine-furlong Group One in France that fits better, we’ve got to make him a stallion.”

Should he end up in the Prince of Wales’s then My Oberon could bump into another stablemate in the shape of globetrotter Addeybb.

“I’m not going to turn him away and I’m going to get him ready for the Prince of Wales’s, I think,” said Haggas.

Chester possible for Al Aasy before Coronation Cup bid

William Haggas has the Cazoo Coronation Cup in his sights with Al Aasy, with the possibility of a trip to Chester beforehand.

Always highly regarded, the Sea The Stars colt looked in a different league to his rivals in the John Porter Stakes at Newbury on Sunday.

As that was only the sixth run of his career, Haggas is keen to get more experience into his charge and as a result the Huxley Stakes at the Roodee is on his radar.

“I don’t think it was that good a race, but I thought he won well – he won like I hoped he would,” said Haggas.

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“He’s always been a very slick, smooth worker and a horse with a lot of talent, but he ran appallingly at Newmarket first time out at three.

“He won his maiden easily and then won the Bahrain Trophy and then he flopped a bit in the Gordon, but this is his year, I think.

“The Coronation Cup would be my first preference. I had a conversation with Angus (Gold, Shadwell racing manager) and I’m toying with the Huxley as well because he needs racing, he was very playful beforehand yesterday.

“So, if he goes anywhere before Epsom it will be Chester. He certainly stays, as he showed in the Bahrain Trophy, but he’s got plenty of pace.

“The Huxley is an extended mile and two furlongs but you have to stay at Chester, no matter what some people say. I think a bit of cut in the ground will suit – if it rains by then.”

Haggas also had news on Sea Empress, an impressive winner on her debut at Newcastle.

“She’s taking a bit of time. I’m looking at an Oaks trial, possibly at Newbury (Haras de Bouquetot Fillies’ Trial Stakes) at the end of May (15),” he said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing her back out.

“We were unlucky there with Sea Karats (another Oaks entry) the other day. She will definitely stay a mile and a half while I’m not convinced with Sea Empress as she’s got a lot of speed, anything from a mile up will suit.”

Easy does it for classy Al Aasy

Al Aasy justified strong market confidence with an imperious display in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at Newbury.

The Group Three, registered as the John Porter Stakes, has been used by some smart types as a starting point in recent years, including subsequent Coronation Cup winner Defoe and a Melbourne Cup runner-up Marmelo.

It would be no surprise if Al Aasy (6-4 favourite) went on to prove himself every bit as good as those two, given the manner of this display.

Settled at the rear by Jim Crowley as Euchen Glen and Tyson Fury set the gallop, Al Aasy cruised into contention at the two-furlong pole.

Without A Fight briefly hit the front but before Andrea Atzeni had chance to think about winning, Crowley loomed up on his outside and quickened up impressively, going on to score by four and a half lengths.

The victory topped a great weekend for William Haggas, whose globetrotter Addeybb grabbed another Grade One in Australia on Saturday.

Assistant trainer Maureen Haggas said: “He was fresh today, he’s a bit of a character and needs racing to make him grow up. He was pretty much above himself today, but is visibly twice the horse to look at before he won over a mile and five.

“The plans are William’s department, but I think the Coronation Cup is an option.”

Fury camp full of expectation

The Tyson Fury camp hope he can show his big-race potential in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes at Newbury.

Unraced at two, the Iffraaj colt impressed with a debut victory at Doncaster in July, but did not appear again until finishing down the field in the St Leger – an admirable run for one so inexperienced – before rounding out his 2020 campaign with a hard-fought Ascot success on testing ground.

Part-owner Phil Cunningham is expecting to learn plenty on Sunday, which will be a busy afternoon for connections and trainer Richard Spencer.

He said: “It’s a big day for us on Sunday – with Tyson, Revich in the Spring Cup and Insomnia in the Greenham.

“Tyson is the main one, I suppose – everyone thinks he is the most exciting horse in the yard, and this could be a season-defining run for him.

“He’s wintered well and is in good form. It’s a strange one with him – it’s almost like he’s a two-year-old going into his three-year-old career, rather than a three-year-old going on at four in terms of the planning, because he only had the three runs last year.

“We ran him at Ascot last year really to give him another spin, with this year in mind.

“The ground should be good for him, and I think we have got the trip right – although we’ll see on Sunday, because he could move up or down, but we need to see if he can be competitive at this level.

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“We have a plan in mind for him, depending on Sunday, but we’d certainly hope to be moving up in grade rather than down.”

Leading the opposition in a race registered as the John Porter is the William Haggas-trained Al Aasy.

He looked a horse of potential last term, improving from an initial fifth behind the all-conquering Mishriff to win a Newmarket maiden before adding the Group Three Bahrain Trophy to his tally.

However, he disappointed when last of six in the Gordon Stakes at Goodwood. He has not run since that effort in July, and Shadwell racing manager Angus Gold is eager to see the Sea The Stars colt resume winning ways.

Gold said: “I hope he’ll run a very good race. He’s been working well and they’ve all been happy with him so far.

“We need to get back on track with him and see where we are. Nothing particularly came to light after Goodwood.

“All I know is they’ve been very happy with him so far this spring, so we need to get on and find out where we are.”

Euchen Glen returned to winning form last term
Euchen Glen returned to winning form last term (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Euchen Glen has to concede weight all round after a fine second half of the 2020 season.

The eight-year-old made a limited impact on his first five starts following a 701-day absence, but victory in the Old Borough Cup at Haydock in September sparked a renaissance, and two Group Three successes followed – including over this course and distance in the St Simon Stakes.

Euchen Glen failed to sparkle under top-weight in the November Handicap on his final outing, but trainer Jim Goldie reports preparations to have gone well.

He said: “It’s his first run back, and the ground is going to be faster than what is was when he won there last year.

“He seems in good nick. We gave him a spin around Musselburgh a fortnight ago, so he’s had a day out and he’s working well.

“He’s a year older, and I don’t think we can expect him to be improving at his age, but he might be.

“He’s giving weight away to younger horses, but there is something to be said for having been there, seen it and done it.

“When he won the John Smith’s Cup (in 2018) that would have been decent ground, so he does handle it.

“Hopefully this will tell us whether he might go to Royal Ascot and will tell us where we’re going trip-wise – whether we’re going up in trip or down in trip, or sticking to a mile and a half.

“We’re looking forward to it.”