Mohaafeth bids to make it five wins from five starts this season in an intriguing renewal of the Sky Bet York Stakes.
The son of Frankel emerged as a leading contender for the Derby after his first three victories of the campaign, but was taken out of the premier Classic at Epsom on the day of the race because of unsuitable ground.
Trainer William Haggas instead sent his exciting colt to Royal Ascot, where he ran out an impressive winner of the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes.
Mohaafeth will be a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group Two level on the Knavesmire this weekend – but with fellow Royal Ascot winner Juan Elcano and high-class Irish raider Armory among the opposition, his task is far from straightforward.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate, said: “I’m very much looking forward to seeing Mohaafeth run. It’s the next step up. We’ve waited for this race particularly, and William and his team have been very happy with him. Let’s see if he can take the next step and go from there.
“He’s an exciting horse and one to look forward to, and obviously he’s done everything right this year. It will be very interesting to see him on Saturday. Hopefully there will be no excuses, and we can see how we get on.”
The Shadwell colours will also be carried in the five-strong field by stablemate Montatham, of whom Gold added: “William wants to make sure there’s a bit of pace. We don’t want a falsely-run race.
“He’ll be there or thereabouts. He’s a lovely horse and a real star for us, so hopefully he can run a good race.”
While Mohaafeth is stepping up in class, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Armory is dropping down in grade – having finished a close-up third behind esteemed stablemate Love in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on his latest outing.
Armory is 7lb clear of Mohaafeth on official ratings, but does have to concede 12lb to his younger rival.
“We thought this looked a nice race for Armory,” said O’Brien.
“It’s 10 furlongs on hopefully good ground, and that is what he wants. Hopefully he’ll run well.”
Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano bids to follow up victory in the Wolferton Stakes, with Andrew Balding’s Bangkok completing the field.
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Motakhayyel heads Shadwell Estate’s three-pronged attack, along with Danyah and Aldaary, on the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot.
The five-year-old, trained by Richard Hannon, was impressive when recording the second of his back-to-back victories in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket two weeks ago.
However, he has to defy top weight of 9st 13lb on Saturday, including a 3lb penalty for his three-and-a-half-length demolition of 17 rivals.
“He was incredibly impressive the other day, with a lot of weight on his back,” said Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold.
“He killed the race, and it was probably his best ever run. Let’s hope he can back it up.
“He’s obviously got a lot of weight again – but he’s a star horse and has been an absolute gem for us.”
Danyah, trained by Owen Burrows, has been placed in three big handicaps this season, the latest coming in the Buckingham Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in which he was second to Highfield Princess.
Gold said: “He’s very consistent. He ran a good race at the Royal meeting and deserves to win a big one.
“He wouldn’t mind a drop of rain if that appeared on Saturday. He’s a nice, solid horse.”
The William Haggas-trained Aldaary was not thought to be at his best when only fifth in the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
“He looked a really progressive horse last year,” said Gold.
“He won his first two starts very impressively, both on soft ground – (but) I don’t think he necessarily needs that.
“With hindsight, I think William and his team felt he wasn’t quite bouncing at the Royal meeting. He didn’t run a bad race. We just feel he’s a bit better than that.
“William has freshened him up, and he worked very well the other day. Let’s see how he gets on. There was talk of going to Goodwood, but William feels at the moment seven furlongs is probably the right trip for him.”
Dance Fever returned to form with victory at Leicester, on his second start following 11 months off the track.
The Clive Cox-trained four-year-old has a 3lb penalty for that success, but connections are expecting a good show as long as any rain showers are not too heavy.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing him run,” said Sam Hoskins, racing manager for owner Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds.
“He’s only 3lb higher than when he won at Leicester last time, and the form has been boosted since.
“We always thought he’s well handicapped, but he’s never had any luck with the weather. It always seems to rain when we want to run him in a big one.
“There are thunderstorms forecast. A bit of rain would be fine, (but) we wouldn’t want a washout.
“He’s handicapped to go close. He was meant to have a run before Royal Ascot – but it was so wet in May we couldn’t run him, and Ascot was a case of blowing the cobwebs away.
“He clearly needed it more than we expected him to, and it was good to see him back next time.
“He’s near the fancied horses. Hopefully he’ll go really well. He ran well at this meeting last year. We’ll be very hopeful he’ll be competitive, as long as the ground doesn’t turn soft.”
Hugo Palmer would like to see some rain for Acquitted.
“He’s been threatening to win one of these big handicaps, and I think he’s got one in him,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“He’d need rain to run, but that does look probable. We just don’t know how much.
“Good ground, we’ve absolutely no problem. If it stays good to firm he won’t run.”
Charlie Appleby is optimistic New Science can put his poor Royal Ascot run on soft ground behind him, with a big performance in the Pat Eddery Stakes.
The Lope De Vega colt was only seventh behind Point Lonsdale in the Chesham Stakes, but had looked a bright prospect when making a winning debut at Yarmouth in May.
He had Reach For The Moon a length and a half in second place that day, and that horse occupied the same position in the Chesham, just half a length behind the winner.
“He was disappointing, but it was very soft ground at Ascot last time,” said Appleby.
“John’s (Gosden) horse (Reach For The Moon) went on to finish second in the Chesham, and we finished down the field, but William (Buick) said he wasn’t happy even going to post on the ground.
“We’ve put a line through it. His homework has been good since – I’m pleased with his preparation, and if he can bounce back to his Yarmouth maiden form he’s a major player.”
Opposition includes the Tom Dascombe-trained Mr McCann, who was fourth in the Superlative Stakes at Newmarket, George Boughey’s Cachet, third in Newmarket’s Empress Stakes, and smooth Salisbury scorer Like A Lion, trained by William Muir and Chris Grassick.
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The Celebration Mile and Prix Jacques le Marois are among the options under consideration for the hugely exciting Baaeed.
In the space of just over a month, the William Haggas-trained three-year-old has made a winning debut at Leicester, dominated his rivals in a Newmarket novice event and returned to the July Course to slam talented colts like Maximal and One Ruler in Listed company last week.
While an outing at Glorious Goodwood in the Group Three Thoroughbred Stakes is not being ruled out, the Sea The Stars colt appears likely to given more time to recover from his recent exertions before being stepped up in class again.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate, said: “I think Baaeed is a very good horse, hopefully.
“I haven’t discussed it any further with William as yet, but I think Goodwood is going to come too soon.
“He’s had three races in relatively quick succession – he’s gone from winning a maiden a month ago to suddenly being an impressive Listed winner in a short space of time.
“There’s the Celebration Mile at Goodwood at the end of August, or if he (Haggas) wanted to go a step further there’s the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, but all the same problems apply in terms of getting to France these days.
“I’m waiting to have a chat with William once he’s had a good look at the horse and see what he thinks. He might turn round and say ‘he looks fine, let’s go to Goodwood’. He was talking about the Group Three race over a mile (Thoroughbred Stakes).
“However, he did say he didn’t want to overdo it because the horse is in a great place at the moment. He might be the best three-year-old we have in training, so we’ve got to do the right thing by him.”
Baaeed is one of several promising three-year-olds for the Shadwell team.
Brian Meehan’s Mandoob ran with plenty of credit when runner-up in last week’s Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket, while the Haggas-trained Royal Ascot winner Mohaafeth is bound for the Sky Bet York Stakes on Saturday week.
Moshaawer, meanwhile – who is trained by Roger Varian and recently impressed in a minor event at Doncaster – is viewed as a possible St Leger candidate.
“Mandoob ran very well and is a very nice horse,” said Gold.
“He’s never been a great mover in slower paces, so Brian has to be careful with him – he’s not a horse we can run every day of the week and on fast ground.
“We’ll space his races out and look for the best opportunity somewhere on a nice track. It’s early days in his career, but he’s got plenty of talent and he’s one to look forward to if we can keep him in one piece.
“Mohaafeth is heading for York, all being well. He worked on Tuesday morning and looks in good shape.
“These things are never easy. But the ideal scenario would be he wins next time, and then we can look at the Juddmonte International.
“I think Moshaawer is an improving horse – we always hoped he was going to be. He’s had niggling problems with a stress fracture and things, and he is a work in progress.
“Is he going to make up into a Leger horse? I think the idea was to give him another run at the end of this month, and if he was going to win that then you could look at the Great Voltigeur at York and we could see if he’s got the class to be a Leger horse or not.
“I think he will make a nice staying horse next year.”
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One-time Classic hope Mehnah bids to get back on the winning trail in Wednesday’s Irish Stallion Farms EBF Cairn Rouge Stakes at Killarney.
A winner on her racecourse debut at Dundalk in the autumn, Kevin Prendergast’s filly made a most encouraging start to her three-year-old campaign when narrowly beaten in the 1,000 Guineas Trial at Leopardstown in April.
A tilt at the Irish 1,000 Guineas was firmly on the agenda before injury intervened, meaning she will make her first competitive appearance in three months in Wednesday’s Listed contest.
Angus Gold, racing manager for Mehnah’s owners Shadwell Estate, said: “She ran a very good race (at Leopardstown) and we were aiming for the (Irish) Guineas before unfortunately she pulled a muscle behind, which meant we had to ease up on her.
“She’s back in good form apparently. Obviously being drawn highest of all doesn’t necessarily make the task any easier, but other than that it’s a perfect race for her and I spoke to Kevin and he seems very happy.
“We’ll try to win a stakes race with her first. If that goes well, we can look around and have a bit of fun with her.
“The interesting thing with her will be what her trip is. She just got beaten over seven furlongs in the Guineas trial, this race is a mile and I’d always imagined she’d be a mile-and-a-quarter filly, but I don’t know that.
“Let’s try to get her back on track and see where we are.”
Mehnah features in a maximum field of 15 runners plus two reserves.
Joseph O’Brien has a trio of contenders in Neptune Rock, Sense Of Style and Thinking Of You, while father Aidan saddles recent Bellewstown scorer Friendly and Queen’s Speech.
The Ger Lyons-trained pair of Acanella and Amber Kite also feature along with Flirting Bridge from Henry de Bromhead’s yard.
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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.
“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.”
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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.
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.
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.”
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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.
“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.”
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Mohaafeth is likely to contest the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot next week following his late withdrawal from the Cazoo Derby.
The Frankel colt was considered a leading contender for the premier Classic, having made it three from three this season with a hugely impressive display in the Listed Newmarket Stakes on Guineas weekend.
However, with rainfall throughout Friday ensuring the ground was on the soft side, trainer William Haggas made the difficult to decision to pull him out of the Derby and instead wait for the Royal meeting.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, said: “William has always been quoted as saying this horse wants fast ground.
“We all walked the track and we thought it was probably fine to run, but William made the point that it wasn’t his ground and his feeling was that he wasn’t going to win it in that ground.
“If you did run you’d risk messing up Ascot, it’s the middle of the season and we need to know where we’re going with this horse.
“If he’d run seventh or eighth and had a hard race and hadn’t recovered in time for Ascot, we’re getting to July without knowing what sort of horse we’ve got to go to war with, so to speak.
“William just felt it wasn’t the right thing to do to run him.”
Mohaafeth is entered in the King Edward VII Stakes on Friday week, but is set to run instead over a mile and a quarter at Group Three level the previous afternoon.
Gold said: “It’s most likely he’ll run in the mile-and-a-quarter race, I would think. There is quite a body of opinion around the horse that thinks he might end up a mile-and-a-quarter horse.
“We weren’t sure about the mile and a half going into the Derby. I’ve noticed his breeder has been quoted twice now, saying she doesn’t think he’d stay – and he has got a lot of speed, this horse.
“Maybe it will turn out a mile and a quarter is his best trip – time will tell.”
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Battaash continues to please as he works towards defending his King’s Stand Stakes crown at Royal Ascot following an injury he sustained over the winter.
The seven-year-old returned to Charlie Hills’ stables in Lambourn in April from his owners Shadwell Stud after recovering from a small fracture.
All has gone well and the five-furlong Group One on June 15 remains the target.
“His trainer will tell you he’s definitely on course for Ascot. It’s been well documented he was late going back in due to his problems during the winter,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate Company.
“He’s a seven-year-old so our job is to make sure he’s OK. He’s done a couple of bits of work now with Dane O’Neill on and Dane is very happy with him. He worked really well on Wednesday and Dane felt like he was still enjoying it.
“We’ve got just under three weeks left before Ascot. At the moment we’re on track. Whether he’ll be sharp enough to go there first time, only the next two weeks will tell us. We’ve a sporting chance at the moment.”
Gold welcomes the prospect of dry conditions for Mohaafeth ahead of the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on Saturday week.
After one of the wettest Mays on record, the weather is set to settle down and quicken up the going.
Faster ground would greatly improve the William Haggas-trained colt’s chances in the premier Classic, on the back of his impressive victory in the Listed Newmarket Stakes on good to firm at headquarters four weeks ago.
“For the ground to dry out would be a help. That would make a difference to this horse with his action,” said Gold.
“All his best form seems to be with top of the ground. Hopefully, we’ll get a dry spell.
“He’s in great form. They are all happy with him. I saw him yesterday (Wednesday) and he’s in great shape.”
Mohaafeth is around a 7-1 shot for the Derby.
Shadwell and Haggas are responsible for short-priced favourite Al Aasy in the Cazoo Coronation Cup on Friday week.
The four-year-old has won two Group Threes at Newbury this spring in impressive fashion to earn his chance at Group One level.
Gold feels Al Aasy may have been flattered by his latest success in the Al Rayyan Stakes, but is not questioning his right to go to Epsom.
“To be absolutely honest, I think one could be a little bit lulled into that Newbury performance. Those around him were under pressure a long way out, but I loved the way he travelled,” he said.
“His confidence is sky high now and he’s a very worthy contender.”
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Mohaafeth is set to take his chance in the Cazoo Derby after bursting into the big-race picture with an impressive victory at Newmarket.
The Frankel colt out of a Sea The Stars mare, French Dressing, trounced Secret Protector in a Listed contest on Guineas weekend to win for the third time this season.
Mohaafeth was slashed to joint second-favourite at 7-1 with some bookmakers – and connections of the William Haggas-trained colt are keen to run him at Epsom.
“He won well, obviously. I think as long as William is happy with the horse and he’s going the right way and Sheikh Hamdan’s family want to run him in the Derby, that is where we will go next,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate.
“We’ll see what happens in the next 10 days with all the trials. That is going to be informative.
“He’s earned the right to run.”
Mutasaabeq could step back down to seven furlongs, possibly for the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, after his run in the 2000 Guineas.
The Charlie Hills-trained colt finished seventh behind Poetic Flare, but may have lacked the experience for such a tough test on only this third start.
“At this stage I’d have thought the obvious race is the Jersey, but let’s see how he is in two weeks’ time when we start back with him,” said Gold.
“The important thing is he’s a good horse and we’ve go to make him into a proper horse and into a stallion.
“He needs to get some Group form under his belt.
“We know he’s a promising horse and I’m sure he will get better as the year goes on. We always knew it was asking a lot going to the Guineas on only his third outing.
“We saw at the weekend it’s hard to win a Guineas off so few runs.”
Dropping back in distance is on the cards for Al Zaraqaan after he finished fourth in the Jockey Club Stakes.
“Jim’s (Crowley) first reaction was he didn’t stay, having thought last year he would definitely stay,” said Gold.
“I did when he was winning at Kempton on the all-weather and this year when he beat Almigwhar on the all-weather. Jim felt he came there sweetly and didn’t go anywhere.
“We’ll bring him back to mile and a quarter. He has plenty of speed on the dam’s side of the family. We thought Golden Horn might put his stamina in, but he didn’t get home on Saturday and Jim felt he’d prefer slightly easier ground.
“We’ll see if that is the case, but we will coming back in trip with him.”
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Mutasaabeq is set to be supplemented for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday.
The son of Invincible Spirit, trained by Charlie Hills, is out of Ghanaati, who carried the colours of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum to victory in the 1000 Guineas in 2009.
Mutasaabeq, who is now owned by Sheikh Hamdan’s family under the Shadwell Racing banner, has won both his starts over seven furlongs at Newmarket, with his latest victory coming earlier this month.
“As long as all is well with the horse tomorrow morning, we will supplement him,” said Angus Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager.
“We’ve been thinking about it. We didn’t put him in at the first stage because we thought it might come a bit quick for him.
“Mentally he was always a fizzy horse, but the team did a great job to keep a lid on him. Then he won first time out at Newmarket late in the season.
“Obviously he was impressive when he won there the other day. It’s impossible to say what he beat, but the way he did it was visually impressive and he ran right to the top of the hill and Jim (Crowley) said he would have no problems going a mile.
“I saw the horse a few days later and he seems to have take that race particularly well. He seems very relaxed at home.
“Dane O’Neill rode him a little half-speed (gallop) yesterday and said he felt in great form. I spoke to Sheikh Hamdan’s family to discuss the options and they said they would like to supplement him.”
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Alkumait will not return to action until the autumn at the earliest after suffering an injury on his seasonal bow at Newbury on Sunday.
Last season’s Mill Reef winner returned to the Berkshire circuit in a bid to provide trainer Marcus Tregoning with a second successive victory in the Greenham Stakes, following the victory of the brilliant Mohaather when the race was last run in 2019.
Angus Gold, racing manager for Shadwell Estate Company, admitted beforehand he had doubts about whether Alkumait would stay the seven-furlong trip of the Greenham – and expects him to return to sprint distances in due course after finishing seventh.
However, when that will be remains uncertain after Alkumait was found to have chipped a knee.
Gold said: “Sadly he’s come out of it with a little chip on a knee, which we’re going to have to take out.
“Apart from anything else, I think the run confirmed he doesn’t stay, even if a chip on a knee was hardly going to help him.
“I think he’s going to be a sprinter, but he’ll miss the whole of the summer and we’ll try to get him back in the autumn.”
Alkumait was one of two Greenham runners for Shadwell along with the Charlie Hills-trained Mujbar.
Connections had hoped the Group Three winner could earn himself a shot at the Qipco 2000 Guineas with a bold showing, but he could now be bound for the French equivalent after finishing only eighth.
“All his best form last year was definitely with give in the ground and I think we learned the other day he would prefer it easier. He was also far too keen, anyway,” Gold added.
“Hopefully we’ve got that out of him now on his first run back and we might look at the French Guineas or something like that.
“We’ll see how he does between now and then, but he won’t be going to Newmarket for the Guineas.”
While Mujbar will not be contesting the first Classic of the season on Saturday week, the Shadwell team are still considering whether to supplement his stablemate Mutasaabeq, who was seriously impressive in a conditions race at Newmarket’s Craven meeting.
Gold said: “No decision has been made yet. We’ll wait to hear from Sheikh Hamdan’s family whether they would like to supplement him for the Guineas or head towards (Royal) Ascot and go the more gentle route.”
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Champion sprinter Battaash is not certain to make Royal Ascot after suffering an injury while wintering at Shadwell Stud.
The seven-year-old sustained a small fracture which has set him back a month and put in doubt his attempt at repeating last year’s victory in the King’s Stand Stakes.
However, he is back cantering and it is hoped he will go back into training with Charlie Hills in a couple of weeks’ time.
“He just had a tiny little fracture in a joint during the winter and we’ve had to give him plenty of time off. He’s had a pin put in it,” said Angus Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager.
“He’s been back cantering for five weeks now and he seems fine at the moment and we will give him two more weeks cantering there and then, all being well, he will go back into training at that stage.
“Obviously the horse’s welfare is our main concern.
“He’ll be a month later going into training than normal, but (the late) Sheikh Hamdan did say to try him again as long as he was sound.
“Because he is going back in later than normal, it’s not guaranteed he’ll get to Royal Ascot. Hopefully he will, but we will see how he goes when he gets back in. He’s seven years old and we need to make sure he’s in one piece.”
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Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum has died, at the age of 75.
Sheikh Hamdan, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, was a hugely prominent owner of a string of Classic and Royal Ascot winners for more than 30 years.
His blue-and-white colours, under the livery of his Shadwell Racing banner, are among the most famous throughout the racing world.
On Wednesday morning Sheikh Hamdan’s younger brother Sheikh Mohammed posted on Twitter: “We belong to God and to Him we shall return … May God have mercy on you, my brother, my support and my companion.”
Among the best of Sheikh Hamdan’s many Group One winners, he was most widely associated with 1989 Derby and 2000 Guineas winner Nashwan, the brilliant 1990 dual Classic-winning filly Salsabil and outstanding sprinters of different generations in Dayjur and Battaash.
Others to have carried his silks included Oaks and King George heroine Taghrooda, another Derby victor in Erhaab and two winners of the Melbourne Cup in the shape of At Talaq and Jeune, who triumphed at Flemington in 1986 and 1994 respectively.
Shadwell issued the following statement on their website: “It is with great sadness that Shadwell announces the death of His Highness, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum. He died peacefully on Wednesday 24th March 2021.
“It is a time to reflect on his achievements and his enormous contribution to the global thoroughbred industry. His legacy will live on through his horses.
“Everyone at Shadwell is so proud to have worked for such a loyal, generous, humble and wise man.”
Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation was among the first to pay tribute.
A tweet on the official account read: “Everyone at Godolphin is deeply saddened to hear of the death of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum. A great loss to Dubai and our sport. He was one of the greatest owner breeders of modern times. Our deepest condolences to His Family and all @ShadwellStud.”
Richard Hills was Sheikh Hamdan’s retained rider from 1997 until his retirement in 2012 and continued to work for him under the Shadwell banner as assistant racing manager.
“It’s really sad. We’re all devastated. From 17 years old, throughout my whole career to now,” he said.
“He was such a great man, he was like a father to me.
“We had some great times. I was in a lucky position. He was my friend, and I was riding his horses, which was his passion. It was joy all the way through.
“Every one of the Classic winners I rode him meant everything to me – four Guineas, an Oaks and a Leger. All of them were special.
“Nayef was great because he was out of Height Of Fashion. He was tough and he won six Group Ones. There was Almutawakel who won the Dubai World Cup.
“I rode 550 winners in Dubai. I don’t think I took a week off for 15 years.
“It was a joy to get up in the morning and ride those horses.”
His long-standing racing manager Angus Gold believes it was Sheikh Hamdan’s passion that was the key to his success.
“It’s a very say day. From my point of view he was an amazing man, and we spoke for the first 25 years nearly every day – whether about horses or just about what was going on in the world,” Gold told Sky Sports Racing.
“He’s been a lot busier recently, so I didn’t bother him quite so much, but he’s been more than a boss.
“To have the sort of success he had you’ve got to have the passion – and he had that in abundance. He absolutely loved the business – particularly the breeding, as everyone knows. A home-bred Classic winner was the highlight for him. That’s why Nashwan was so special and close to his heart, as he always said.
“He was absolutely passionate about the business. He loved going to look at the foals and the yearlings and to see them on the racecourse – I’m sure that’s what kept him going for so long. He was so passionate about it.
“It was a truly global operation – America, Australia and South Africa – and when Dubai opened up he loved having runners and winners there in his homeland, so his influence was very global. We were very lucky he played such a big part in it.
“It was wonderful to talk to a man who was so immersed in the whole thing, the fact he was very busy in his own right in Dubai and obviously a rich and powerful man, yet what he loved was talking about his horses.
“He would often ring me about the smallest thing that you wouldn’t think he had time to notice – but he watched every runner and had very strong opinions.
“It’s too early to talk about what the future will bring. We will wait and see what Sheikh Hamdan’s family want to do, but I think just from the breeding point of view some of the families he has helped develop over the last 40 years will be around for a long time to come.”
One of the many memorable themes of a truncated Flat campaign has been the success enjoyed by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.
Performances by such stars as Battaash, Mohaather and Nazeef has helped the owner have arguably his best ever season.
With five domestic Group Ones, more than 100 winners and a strike-rate of 20 per cent, plus big-race wins abroad, it has been a year to remember for Sheikh Hamdan – albeit one tempered by the effect of the pandemic.
“It’s been a horrible year for everybody globally, let alone just us, but on the track we’ve been very lucky,” said Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager Angus Gold.
“We’ve had a very good year. It’s been as good a year probably as we’ve ever had, at least for 30 years.”
Gold reflected on a Flat racing year shortened for obvious reasons but at the same time blessed with many memorable performances, supported by a stern resilience and determined will to keep the show on the road.
Racing was suspended from March 18 to June 1 – but just two weeks into the season came Royal Ascot and a first-day treble in the familiar blue and white colours to help light up a dark 2020.
“We’ve been very lucky on the track, and it started fantastically well at Ascot. It’s hard enough to get one winner there, but to have six was extraordinary,” said Gold.
“The first day was amazing. Probably what was so good was the sheer number of good horses we had. Normally you rely on two or three. This year we were winning Group races with a number of different horses, which obviously makes a big difference.”
For Gold there were so many good performances. However, Mohaather’s effort in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, when he finally got his Group One, stood out.
“I suppose the highlight of the year was Mohaather in the Sussex. He got a big one, and he hadn’t had much luck before then,” he added.
“It was great to get his day in the sun.
“Battaash was tremendous and held his form through the year. Enbihaar was good again. She did brilliantly, and Nazeef came from being a handicapper last year to winning a Group One.
“We only kept her in training because we thought she could definitely get some black type, so to go from a Listed to Group Two to a Group One was wonderful.
“We had a couple of nice fillies in France, Raabihah and Tawkeel, so that was tremendous as well – and then it was backed up with some nice two-year-olds as well, which was nice.
Gold is looking to this year’s juveniles to develop into Classic contenders for 2021.
“Owen Burrow’s Minzaal won the Gimcrack, Marcus’s (Tregoning) horse (Alkumait) won the Mill Reef and then there was the Horris Hill as well with a horse of Charlie’s (Hills) (Mujbar),” he said.
“It was across the board, which was the satisfying bit.
“That is what you need, and the older horses kept us going early.
“We were light on some Classic three-year-olds, but hopefully some of those two-year-olds from this year have shown enough to suggest they could make up into something next year.
“There’s a horse of Dermot Weld’s that was just beaten the other day (at Leopardstown) called Wuqood, who could be very nice.
“There’s a number of nice, more backward horses here. I still like Albasheer of Owen Burrows’. I think it all came a bit quick for him, but he’s a potentially nice horse in the making.
“There have been one or two that have shown up just recently – winning maidens, that sort of thing – who could go on.
“It was weird to have such a good year and yet we feel, not deflated, but not being able to enjoy it really with what’s going on the world. We’ve been incredibly lucky.”
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