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Ascot return in offing for Minzaal

Last year’s Gimcrack winner Minzaal may be back in action at Ascot early next month.

Trained by Owen Burrows, Minzaal needed surgery on a leg injury which was sustained in his box and ruled him out of the first half of the campaign – and then when he was set to return at Nottingham in August, another issue meant that plan had to be shelved.

But Burrows is happy with him again, and the John Guest Racing Bengough Stakes, a Group Three over six furlongs, or the Listed Oakman Group Rous Stakes are his options – both on October 2.

“Minzaal had that little blip which forced him to miss the race at Nottingham – but touch wood, he’s back in strong work,” said Burrows.

“There’s the Bengough or the Rous Stakes – which is over five furlongs – both on the same day at Ascot. He’ll have an entry in both of them.

“Touch wood I’ve been pleased with him. He’s back in strong work, and fingers crossed we can get him there.

“He’s a very good horse, so it would be great for the team and myself to get him back because we’ve missed him this year – we thought he was going to be one of our flag bearers. It will be good to see him.”

That flag-bearing role has been taken on for the Lambourn yard by Danyah, but he disappointed when upped in class at Doncaster.

Danyah gained a valuable success at Ascot in July
Danyah gained a valuable success at Ascot in July (Nigel French/PA)

“He had a bit of mucus in his scope when he got back in the evening, but it didn’t thrown up any infection,” said Burrows.

“He seems fine, he ate up and only lost three kilos. I think he just had on off-day unfortunately. He hadn’t missed all season.

“While he’s won on soft, he’s really improved this season on fast ground. Whether or not that is a valid enough excuse, I don’t know.”

Danyah booked for Park Stakes action

Owen Burrows is eyeing a Park Stakes comeback for the Shadwell-owned gelding Danyah.

The four-year-old was last seen winning the valuable Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot on King George day, after which a step up to Grade Two level was planned in the Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.

Unfortunately injury scuppered that plan as the horse was withdrawn on the morning of the race, having pulled out of his box lame on his left hind leg.

The gelding has since recovered and has the Cazoo-sponsored Park Stakes on the final day of Doncaster’s St Leger meeting pencilled in for his return to action.

“He’s come back sound, he’s just cantered in front of me and he looks well,” said Burrows on Wednesday.

“I left him in the Park Stakes at Doncaster so fingers crossed that will be the plan now, all being well.

“He wasn’t quite right on his left hind (leg), we’ve identified what it was and he’s back sound now so we’ll see if we can get him to Doncaster.

“He’s missed a little bit of work, but obviously he was fit at the time so it shouldn’t be a problem, it’s two weeks on Saturday so we’re on track still, all being well.”

Burrows is also likely to step up in grade with Albasheer, who is also owned by Shadwell and was beaten a head by the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Jumby when contesting a six-furlong conditions event at Salisbury on Tuesday evening – his first run of the year.

Danyah already has winning form at Doncaster
Danyah already has winning form at Doncaster (Dan Abraham/PA)

“It was a bit tactical and he’s going to come on a bundle for that,” the trainer said of the performance.

“He just got tired there in that last half a furlong and just allowed Eve’s horse to come back and nab him on the line.

“It was a little bit disappointing not to win, but he seems fine this morning and he’s trotted up well.

“It was a good performance by Jumby because he was wrong at the weights and giving us the 4lb penalty, it was a little bit slow with the three runners and it was a bit more tactical than I might have hoped.

“It turned into a bit of a sprint, Jim (Crowley, jockey) said he handled the six (furlongs) fine but I don’t know whether he’s quite an out-and-out sprinter, I think he might just fall into that seven-furlong category.”

Albasheer (right) in action in last season's Champagne Stakes
Albasheer (right) in action in last season’s Champagne Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup Stakes could now be on his agenda, a race that would see the bay return to the seven furlong trip over which he ran credibly in the Champagne Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old.

“I’ve got a Listed race pencilled in for him at Newbury,” said Burrows.

“It’s back up to seven (furlongs) at the Dubai Duty Free meeting, we’ll have a look at that as the timing’s nice, fingers crossed we can get back out and on the road with him.

“He’s a horse we’ve got for next year, it’s a case of getting him on track and learning a bit more about him, but we won’t be getting too excited this year or doing anything too extravagant entry-wise.”

Burrows hoping Hukum and Danyah can star at Newbury

Owen Burrows is targeting a big-race double at Newbury on Saturday with stable stars Hukum and Danyah.

The Lambourn handler reports Hukum firmly on course to bid for back-to-back victories in the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes, while Danyah is being prepared for a step up in class for the Group Two BetVictor Hungerford Stakes.

Having finished third behind top-class filly Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Hukum got back on the winning trail in last month’s Silver Cup at York.

Burrows said: “Hukum will almost definitely run on Saturday, as long as we’re happy with him tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.

“He’s done nothing wrong at all this year. Obviously he won this race well last year and it would be nice to repeat that.

“It gets a little bit tricky after this race, but we’ll get Saturday out of the way and worry about where we go next afterwards.

“I see they had 12 millimetres of rain (at Newbury). We’re about 25 minutes away and we had a nice dousing yesterday.

“The sun is out today. They’re talking about getting a shower or two on Thursday, but I would have thought it will dry out to be lovely, good ground – there’ll be no excuses for anybody, I wouldn’t have thought.”

Ilaraab (left) could take on Hukum at Newbury
Ilaraab (left) could take on Hukum at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hukum was one of 12 entries received for the Geoffrey Freer on Monday.

His potential rivals include the William Haggas-trained Ilaraab, who won six consecutive races before disappointing in the Hardwicke, and Hugo Palmer’s Listed-winning filly Golden Pass.

Hukum’s stablemate Danyah was last seen claiming a narrow victory in the lucrative International Stakes at Ascot.

The Invincible Spirit gelding was not winning out of turn three weeks ago, having finished fourth in the Lincoln at Doncaster, second in the Spring Cup at Newbury and second in the Buckingham Palace at Royal Ascot on his three previous outings this season.

Danyah winning at Doncaster
Danyah winning at Doncaster (Dan Abraham/PA)

“We’ll have to see where we are with him and see if he can take that step up into Group Two company,” Burrows added.

“We could wait for a Listed race back at Newbury in early September over seven furlongs, while there’s also the Park Stakes at Doncaster at the the Leger meeting, but that is still a month away.

“I was always taught that if they’re well they ought to be running and he’s giving us all the right signs.”

Danyah is one of 19 confirmations for the Hungerford Stakes, with Motakhayyel and Space Blues the top two on ratings.

The Richard Hannon-trained Motakhayyel won Newmarket’s Bunbury Cup before finishing three lengths behind Danyah in the International, while Group One winner Space Blues can be expected to improve from his comeback fourth in the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood.

Danyah delivers for favourite backers in International heat

Danyah gained due reward for a string of good efforts when just holding off Star Of Orion to win the Moet & Chandon International Stakes at Ascot.

The Owen Burrows-trained four-year-old had been placed in three big handicaps this season, including when second in the Buckingham Palace Stakes last time out.

Having travelled strongly to hit the front well over two furlongs out for William Buick, Danyah had to be game as the challengers mounted up.

It was Star Of Orion who got closest for Laura Pearson and Ralph Beckett – but even in receipt of lumps of weight, he could not get by.

“Watching it live, I thought he’d been done again, and it wasn’t until I saw the replay that I thought we’d won,” said Burrows.

“He travelled so well. It was not the plan to make it – but it was a concern that there was not a lot of pace around us.

“These handicaps clearly suit him – and while he’ll be rated high enough to go for a Listed or Group Three now, they won’t be run to suit him.

“He goes on any ground, I’d been eyeing the Balmoral (on Champions Day), because he handles plenty of cut, and I was actually a bit worried the rain hadn’t come today.”

After an agonising near-miss in the Princess Margaret Stakes, champion jockey Oisin Murphy registered another winner in what is proving to be a red-hot spell when Guru got up late in the Porsche Handicap.

Guru (right) just got the better of Marsabit
Guru (right) just got the better of Marsabit (Nigel French/PA)

Without a win since his debut, the John and Thady Gosden-trained three-year-old had run well on his last start at the track behind Isla Kai, a non-runner on this occasion because the ground was too quick.

Sent off a 7-2 chance, he caught Marsabit in the final strides to win by a short head.

John Gosden said: “He’d lost his way a bit but has come back very well and was a bit unlucky the other day.

“They went no pace today and I liked the way he had to get into the race from a long way out. He’ll get 10 furlongs in time but a strongly-run mile is what he wants now.”

When the Cambridgeshire was suggested as a possible target, Gosden replied: “You can say that – but I can’t, because the minute I do, he’d go up another 5lb!”

Spirited Guest triumphed for Rosie Margarson
Spirited Guest triumphed for Rosie Margarson (Nigel French/PA)

Rosie Margarson made a winning comeback after breaking her ankle in May to take the Longines Handicap aboard Spirited Guest.

The five-year-old, trained by the jockey’s father George, ran prominently throughout and prevailed as 100-30 joint-favourite in the event for female amateur riders.

Southern Voyage (2-1) landed the Sebastian’s Action Trust Handicap for trainer Archie Watson and jockey Daniel Tudhope.

Motakhayyel leads hunt for International honours

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 ran a good race when runner-up at Royal Ascot and will try to go one better back at the Berkshire track
Danyah was runner-up at Royal Ascot and will try to go one better back at the Berkshire track (Dan Abraham/PA)

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.

Hukum has Newmarket in sights next

Hukum will attempt to return to winning ways in the Princess of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket.

A winner at Royal Ascot last year, the Owen Burrows-trained four-year-old finished third in a good renewal of the Hardwicke Stakes won by David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight.

“He seems fine afterwards – he’s cantered away for a few days this week,” said Burrows.

“We’ll have a look at the Princess of Wales’s at Newmarket (on July 8).

“The filly obviously quickened up and is a bit special on that ground. Two out, I was getting a little excited given the way he travelled – hopefully on better ground he might be able to find two or three lengths.

“I wouldn’t want it to be too fast, but good ground would be great.”

Burrows had another near miss at the big meeting with the consistent Danyah, who finished an honourable second to John Quinn’s Highfield Princess in the Buckingham Palace.

“He’s such an honest, consistent horse – but unfortunately the handicapper hasn’t missed him again and has put him up another 5lb,” said the Lambourn trainer.

“He couldn’t win off 101 – so how’s he going to win off 106?

“I was a bit disappointed with that, but he’s his own worst enemy being second in the Spring Cup and fourth in the Lincoln. It was just a shame the rain didn’t come 24 hours later for him.

“I’ve entered him in the big seven-furlong race on King George day back at Ascot (Moet & Chandon International Stakes), and we’ll see where he sits in that, but we may end up being forced into a Listed race.”

Danyah primed for Lincoln bid

Owen Burrows reports Danyah to have done well during the winter and is looking forward to saddling the four-year-old in the Unibet Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster.

The son of Invincible Spirit showed progressive form last term, topping and tailing his season with victories on Town Moor and at Haydock.

Burrows is optimistic Danyah can put up a good show on Saturday, on the evidence of his home work.

The Lambourn trainer said: “We’ve been pleased with him. He’s done well through the winter.

“He’s pleased me in his work leading up to this. Conditions look to suit, so fingers crossed.

“He’s won over the course and at Haydock over a mile on good ground. I’m expecting the ground to be similar to Haydock – so no excuses there.

“We’re going there ticking a few boxes. We’re hopeful.”

The draw is always a talking point over the straight mile on Town Moor, and Burrows is happy enough with stall nine.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be drawn much lower. We’ll take that,” he said.

“It depends how it pans out. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

Charlie Appleby is anticipating a big run from Eastern World as he seeks a third win in the race, following the successes of Secret Brief in 2016 and Auxerre in 2019.

“Eastern World won impressively on his one start in Dubai over the winter and travelled back to the UK well,” the Newmarket trainer told www.godolphin.com.

“The one thing he does take into this race is that he is fit and ready to go – he looked fantastic when he got off the plane. Both our previous winners of the Lincoln were also drawn high, so hopefully stall 19 is a good sign.”

Charlie Fellowes has concerns about the ground and the draw for King Ottokar
Charlie Fellowes has concerns about the ground and the draw for King Ottokar (Steven Paston/PA)

Charlie Fellowes is hoping stall four will not prove disadvantageous to King Ottokar, who has had this race as his objective since the autumn.

He said: “We’re far side. It’s a typically strong field, (so) hopefully there is some pace around us to aim at, and we’ll see. In these big handicaps, you need to be behind the pace.

“I want a bit of rain just to take the edge off the ground.

“I’ll go and walk the track beforehand.

“He’s had a perfect preparation. He’s working well at home, and this has been the target since the Balmoral. We’re very happy.”

River Nymph disappointed in that race at Ascot in October, but trainer Clive Cox felt it was one race too many.

However, the Lambourn trainer could not be more pleased with how the four-year-old has wintered and is hoping stall two will not be a hindrance.

“He’s in great form. I think he was probably just off the boil when he ran in the Balmoral, but he’s trained very well and wintered well,” he said.

“I hope a low draw is no inconvenience. I think he will get the mile, though, we’ve got to prove that yet. It will mould our campaign, but I couldn’t be happier with him.

“He’s fit and well. We’re looking forward to getting under way on Saturday.”

Trainer Richard Hughes would like to see rain for Brentford Hope
Trainer Richard Hughes would like to see rain for Brentford Hope (Dan Abraham/PA)

Richard Hughes is another who would prefer some rain, to help Brentford Hope’s chances.

“I’m happy enough. I just need a bit of rain now,” said the Upper Lambourn handler.

“Hopefully, they’ll get some. He needs some.

“He’s well and he goes there with his chance if the ground is soft.”

Richard Hannon is two-handed in the Lincoln with Man Of The Night and Ouzo
Richard Hannon is two-handed in the Lincoln with Man Of The Night and Ouzo (Nigel French/PA)

Richard Hannon expects his two runners, Man Of The Night and Ouzo, to go well.

The Marlborough trainer was pleased with Man Of The Night’s first run for 246 days at Wolverhampton this month.

“He ran a very good race at Wolverhampton, he was running on late,” he said.

“He probably does want a mile and a quarter, but they will go very quick on that straight mile at Doncaster. He is a big horse who would have needed that first run. He will come on massively for the run.

“He is quite lightly raced. We thought he was going to be a very good horse, and he has not delivered on that after his win first time out at Newbury, but he is looking like he is going to pay dividends now in these very good handicaps.”

Hannon reports Ouzo to be catching the eye on the gallops.

“He has been working great. His last run (at York) last year was very pleasing, and he looks to me a horse still on the upgrade – he is in great form,” he said.

“I think he will go very well at a fairly good price. He might want further, but a straight mile is what he wants first time.

“Mentally he looks to be going the right way. I was a bit worried about him at one stage last year, but he has sorted himself out and he is in great nick mentally and physically.”

Born To Be Alive is due to represent Karl Burke
Born To Be Alive is due to represent Karl Burke (Richard Sellers/PA)

Karl Burke has ground worries for Born To Be Alive, winner of the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton.

“The drying ground is a concern, I’ll walk the track before I let him take his chance,” said Burke.

“It’s a bit frustrating because the horse is in good form.”