Tag Archive for: Hukum

Hukum retired to stand at stud in Japan

Hukum has been retired and will join Darley’s stallion roster at Hokkaido in Japan.

Trained expertly by Owen Burrows, the six-year-old is a full-brother to the brilliant Baaeed, also owned by Shadwell.

The winner of 11 of his 18 races, he won twice at Group One level. Having beaten Pyledriver by over four lengths in the 2022 Coronation Cup, he looked set for a stellar season but unfortunately suffered a career-threatening injury.

Nursed back to health by the Shadwell team and Burrows, he beat last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes before claiming victory in a thrilling King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes over Westover.

Hukum (right) got the better of Westover and King Of Steel in the King George
Hukum (right) got the better of Westover and King Of Steel in the King George (Adam Davy/PA)

Burrows said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to train Hukum over the last four seasons.

“I will forever be in his debt as he has brought my career to a whole new level. His enthusiasm for work and racing made my job easy.

“His win in the Coronation Cup by over four lengths and King George win this year showed off all his fine attributes perfectly. Class, guts and will to win. That race will live long in, not just mine, but many racing fans’ memory for years to come.

“A superb looking and athletic individual, a full-brother to Baaeed, whom I’m sure will be very popular with breeders in Japan.”

Stephen Collins, Shadwell’s European Bloodstock Manager, told www.shadwellstud.com: “Shadwell are delighted that Hukum, a full-brother to Baaeed, the highest-rated turf horse in the last decade, will stand at Darley Japan.

Owen Burrows has a lot to thank Hukum for
Owen Burrows has a lot to thank Hukum for (John Walton/PA)

“Hukum has all the attributes to be a hugely successful stallion. A top-class racehorse, possessing a wonderful physique, he hails from one of Shadwell’s most successful families tracing back to the highly influential broodmare Height Of Fashion.

“We are thrilled that Japanese breeders will be able to avail of such a wonderful bloodline that his late HH Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum and his family have developed and maintained at the highest level over the last 40 years.

“Sheikha Hissa and her family very much look forward to following Hukum’s new career very closely and it wouldn’t surprise me if Shadwell were to support him with some high-quality broodmares going forward as he is held in the highest regard by us all.”

Angus Gold paid tribute to Hukum
Angus Gold paid tribute to Hukum (Mike Egerton/PA)

Shadwell’s racing manager, Angus Gold, added: “He’s done incredibly well. It’s well documented he got that fracture last year and to come back and win two Group races, including one of the greatest races in Europe, was really special.

“Sheikha Hissa was very keen to retain her contact with the horse and Darley said he could stand with them in Japan, which is a wonderful opportunity for the horse.

“Both Owen’s team and the team at Shadwell did a fantastic job to get him back and it’s great it’s ended on a good note.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Burrows points to quick conditions after Hukum’s Arc eclipse

Owen Burrows was left to rue conditions at ParisLongchamp as Hukum was unable to build on his stellar 2023 when only ninth in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Shadwell-owned six-year-old headed to France at the peak of his powers following a thrilling Group One triumph in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in the summer, but an unfavourable draw in stall 14 combined with drying ground saw the son of Sea The Stars at a disadvantage.

Despite jockey Jim Crowley’s best efforts to get his mount in a handy position, Hukum was simply unable to pick up when asked in the unseasonable conditions as he faded through the field in the closing stages.

Hukum (right) winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot earlier this season
Hukum (right) winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot earlier this season (Adam Davy/PA)

“Obviously the draw didn’t help but to be fair to Jim, he was able to get him in a good position and the ground was just too quick, pure and simple,” said Burrows.

“It was balmy weather and felt like we were there in July, but we had a bit of luck with the King George being run on good to soft, so we take it as it comes. We were unfortunate but that’s the way it goes.”

Having suffered an injury after his first Group One triumph in last year’s Coronation Cup, Burrows’ stable star returned from almost a year off the track better than ever this term.

He ended Derby winner Desert Crown’s unbeaten run in the Brigadier Gerard on his reappearance at Sandown and having skipped Royal Ascot on account of the ground, got his moment in the spotlight at the Berkshire track when outbattling Westover in the King George.

It was only Hukum’s third outing of the season in the Arc, but with the ground conditions oversees unlikely to be in his favour, an international campaign seems unlikely and Shadwell’s Sheikha Hissa is set to have the final call on his next move.

“It will be for Sheikha Hissa to decide, I’m sure we will catch up over the next few days and see what’s what,” added Burrows.

“All the international races will probably be run on the faster side, so we shall see, but there’s nothing jumping out at us.

“He’s only had the three runs but to come back and win the Brigadier Gerard and then to win a King George, you can’t be disappointed at all. He’s been a wonderful servant for me and he’s definitely justified being kept in training.”

Alyanaabi winning the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket
Alyanaabi winning the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket (Tim Goode/PA)

Meanwhile, an encouragingly dry forecast is increasing the prospect of Hukum’s stablemate Alyanaabi taking his chance in the Dewhurst Stakes later this month.

The son of Too Darn Hot claimed the Tattersalls Stakes with a stylish late rattle and with his running style meaning minimal energy was exerted during his first taste of the Rowley Mile, a return to Newmarket for Group One action later this month could be on the cards.

Burrows said: “He didn’t really have much of a race, he only really raced the last furlong and he ate up the next morning and didn’t lose a kilo in weight, so he didn’t have a hard time. The initial signs are he’s come out of it well.

“I will have a chat with Sheikha Hissa. I think he likes the ground on the faster side of good and the forecast I’ve seen looks predominantly good so we’ll see.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Bay Bridge team buoyed by Stoute’s desire to go for Arc glory

Bay Bridge has connections dreaming of Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe glory as he heads to ParisLongchamp for a blockbuster renewal of the European middle-distance championship.

Bay Bridge lowered the colours of the all-conquering Baaeed when scooping Champion Stakes gold at Ascot last year, but the proven Group One performer will be making just his second start over a mile and a half in the French capital on Sunday.

Course experience was banked when third in the Prix Ganay earlier in the season and the final piece of the Bay Bridge jigsaw was completed when proving his suitability over the 12-furlong trip with an emphatic success in the September Stakes earlier this month.

That Kempton event has been used as a timely stepping stone to Paris in the past and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old fared best of the British challengers during Thursday’s draw in stall six – the spot that has provided the most Arc success this century.

“We’re heading there and hoping for a good result,” said John O’Connor of Ballylinch Stud, who own the horse in conjunction with breeder James Wigan.

“We think based on his last run that he gets a mile and a half. He’s well proven over a mile and a quarter, but he appears to get a mile and a half well enough judged on the September Stakes, which has been used as a Prix de l’Arc prep previously by Enable. So it’s a proven path if you like.”

Remarkably Stoute has just one Arc victory on his illustrious CV, but few in the training ranks possess a wealth of experience as great as the master of Freemason Lodge.

And it is the 77-year-old’s desire to run in the race which has given his owners the belief their charge could make his mark in one of the year’s most fiercely competitive contests.

Jockey Richard Kingscote celebrates with horse Bay Bridge after winning at Ascot last season
Jockey Richard Kingscote celebrates with horse Bay Bridge after winning at Ascot last season (John Walton/PA)

“He’s a very good horse, but obviously the Arc is a very difficult race to win,” added O’Connor.

“It’s regularly the highest-rated race in the world and we’re under no illusions that it is a competitive race and hard to win.

“But we think he is in there with a good chance and he’s trained by a maestro who has already won the race, so he knows what it takes to win it. He’s keen to run him and we’re happy to go along with that.

“Everyone knows how hard it is to win the race, but we’re going to give it a shot.”

Sir Michael Stoute will saddle Bay Bridge at ParisLongchamp
Sir Michael Stoute will saddle Bay Bridge at ParisLongchamp (Mike Egerton/PA)

Stoute’s sole Arc victory came curtesy of Workforce who carried the famous Juddmonte silks to victory in 2010 and the Abdullah family’s racing operation – who have enjoyed Arc glory with Enable in the last 10 years – will be optimistic of celebrating another triumph with the Ralph Beckett-trained Westover.

“We’re looking forward to it and he’s in good form at home,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for the owners.

“His preparations have gone really well, both Ralph and Rob (Hornby, jockey) are really happy with him and as I say, he’s had a smooth run into it.”

A winner of the Irish Derby at three, he has taken his form skywards this term, finishing no worse than second in four starts, all at Group One level.

Westover has been in top form this season
Westover has been in top form this season (Niall Carson/PA)

The son of Frankel has already tasted success in France at Saint-Cloud earlier in the season and having got bogged down in deep ground when sixth in this race last season, conditions should suit this time ahead of his second bite of the Arc cherry.

“He’s a better horse now at four, both physically and mentally, and is in a good place,” continued Mahon.

“He’s been to France and Dubai this year and travelling doesn’t seem to bother him and hopefully that is a plus.

“He’s obviously had two hard runs his last two races and we probably won’t see the full effect of them, if there is any, until he runs on Sunday.

“But the ground looks like it will be better than last year which will suit and he has had his few days away (racecourse gallops) and a break since the King George. There have been no blips along the way and hopefully that will equate to a good run on Sunday.”

Westover was last seen going down valiantly in defeat as Owen Burrows’ Hukum prevailed in a thrilling finish to the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Both horses have not been seen since as their respective trainers elected to send their candidates across the Channel with a full petrol tank and despite a tough draw in stall 14 to overcome, connections of Hukum are keen to see how the thriving five-year-old fares against a talented cast of rivals.

“It’s very exciting, Owen decided to keep him fresh (after Ascot) hoping to get him there in good shape,” explained Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.

Westover (left) and Hukum (right) fought out the finish to the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot
Westover (left) and Hukum (right) fought out the finish to the King George And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (Adam Davy/PA)

“There’s a reason it is one of the best races in the world, it is very hard to win.

“It will be fascinating this year to see if the two really good French three-year-olds and the likes of Continuous and Fantastic Moon are good enough to take on the older horses. That is the interesting puzzle this year and obviously we won’t know until Sunday.

“It’s very exciting to go out there with a chance, it’s a shame about the draw but there is nothing we can do about that so we are just going to have to work our way around it, hope for a little bit of luck, and see how we get on.”

Aidan O’Brien has won Europe’s richest middle-distance contest twice in the past and his St Leger hero Continuous is the sole Ballydoyle contender this time around, dropping back in trip following his Doncaster Classic triumph.

Only two weeks have passed since his victory on Town Moor, but O’Brien is confident the son of Heart’s Cry will justify connections decision to supplement the colt into the contest at a cost of £120,000.

O’Brien said: “Every horse is different and every year is different, but it is two weeks and it is quick enough for going back. You’d prefer three or four weeks really, but I suppose he has been busy and he’s a hardy type of horse now. Obviously we’re hoping, he seems to be in good form.

“You’re obviously never sure when you turn around that quick and he is only a three-year-old, but he’s a hardy, mature horse. He’s done plenty of racing and he has had breaks in between his runs.

“We’re very hopeful, he’s a good, strong traveller, he’s relaxed and he’s got form in all types of ground and he is tactically quick enough, but you never know until you do it, really.

“He’s not dislike (2016 winner) Found, he’s a good, strong traveller. He handles fast ground and he does quicken and gets the trip very well. He probably gets the trip better, Found just got a mile and a half but this horse won a Leger so obviously gets further. But class might have helped him do that and not stamina.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Hukum hopes dealt a blow with unfavourable wide draw in Arc

Hukum will have to overcome an unfavourable draw in stall 14 if he is to triumph in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

The Owen Burrows-trained six-year-old won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot when last seen in July, having beaten Derby hero Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown, when both horses were returning from long absences.

However, Hukum did not enjoy much luck in Thursday’s draw ceremony, with only Simca Mille on his outside in a 15-strong field.

Two winners have emerged from stall 14 since 2000, with Frankie Dettori producing a memorable ride aboard Golden Horn in 2015 and Dalakhani winning under Christophe Soumillon in 2003.

Hukum’s big-race pilot Jim Crowley will now be studying the tapes of the heroics of his weighing-room colleagues ahead of his ride aboard the Shadwell-owned contender in the French capital.

“I’m sure Jim will be doing all that, but there’s absolutely nothing we can do,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for the owners.

“Golden Horn had a lot of tactical speed, he went forward and stayed out wide and got a brilliant ride.

“There is no point making a fuss about it as there is nothing we can do.

“We’ll just have to work around it, see how he breaks and go forward and hope to slot in somewhere.”

Ace Impact winning the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club
Ace Impact winning the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club (ScoopDyga/France Galop)

Ante-post favourite Ace Impact, winner of the Prix du Jockey Club for Jean-Claude Rouget, enjoyed much better fortune in stall eight, with St Leger winner Continuous, who was supplemented at a cost of €120,000 on Wednesday, next to him in stall seven for Aidan O’Brien.

The Ralph Beckett-trained Westover, beaten just a head by Hukum at Ascot, will be on the inside in stall one, with Free Wind – Dettori’s final Arc mount – in three for John and Thady Gosden.

Bay Bridge, representing Sir Michael Stoute, completes the British and Irish challenge in stall six under Richard Kingscote.

German Derby and Prix Niel victor Fantastic Moon was also supplemented and he will be in stall 12, with fellow German raiders Mr Hollywood and Sisfahan in 10 and 13 respectively.

St Leger winner Continuous represents Aidan O'Brien
St Leger winner Continuous represents Aidan O’Brien (Tim Goode/PA)

Prix Niel second Feed The Flame and Japanese runner Through Seven Seas are also drawn low in two and five, with Haya Zark (four), Onesto (nine) and Place Du Carrousel (11) rounding out the field.

Coral trimmed Ace Impact to 100-30 from 7-2 following the draw, while Hukum was edged out to 5s from 9-2.

The firm’s David Stevens said: “Ace Impact’s connections can have few complaints about drawing stall eight, and it’s a draw that will probably ensure the unbeaten colt is sent off favourite on Sunday, especially as his biggest market rival, Hukum, appears to have been done few favours with a wide draw in 14.”

The ground at ParisLongchamp is expected to be good to soft, with a reported 25 per cent chance of light rain on either Thursday or Friday and no watering planned.

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Burrows content with Hukum’s route to Paris date

Owen Burrows considers Hukum’s light campaign to be a help and not a hindrance ahead of his bid for the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The Shadwell-owned colt has been seen just twice this year, winning the Brigadier Gerard Stakes after almost a year off the track when making his seasonal debut in May.

He defeated Derby hero Desert Crown on that occasion and subsequently side-stepped Royal Ascot as the ground was unsuitably quick.

That left the horse off the track for 65 days when he lined up for a hugely-competitive renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes, but the absence did nothing to stop him edging out Ralph Beckett’s Westover by a head in thrilling finish.

There will be gap of a similar length between that performance and Sunday’s race and with the bay proven to go well fresh, Burrows has few concerns about his sparse season.

Hukum winning the Coronation Cup in 2022
Hukum winning the Coronation Cup in 2022 (Tim Goode/PA)

He said: “I’m more than happy to bring him in off the back of his King George win, he’s proven as he won first time in Dubai last year on Super Saturday.

“He won the Brigadier Gerard and then we weren’t able to run at Royal Ascot as the ground was a bit quick, so he went to the King George after a bit of a break.

“He’s obviously a horse who runs well fresh and we’re confident we can get him there in a good spot.”

Burrows has been satisfied with Hukum’s work since he was last seen on track, and is especially pleased with how he seems to be thriving at six after a serious injury robbed him of a year of racing following his 2022 Coronation Cup victory.

“We’ve been very pleased with him, obviously that (the King George) was at the end of July so he’s had a nice easy couple of weeks after that,” the trainer said.

Hukum defeating Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes
Hukum defeating Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes (Adam Davy/PA)

“We’ve had a nice amount of time to slowly bring him up for this very important race now.

“I think it’s pretty obvious to see with his form this year that he is better than ever, it looked last season like he was on the up when he won the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

“Unfortunately he picked up his injury there, which stopped his season, but from an early stage this year when we started working him again, he showed all his old enthusiasm and his work was better than ever.

“For whatever reason he looks as though he’s found a bit from somewhere this year, he was able to win the Brigadier Gerard over a mile and a quarter. He certainly is as as good as ever.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Ace Impact and Hukum headline 15 Arc contenders

Ace Impact and Hukum are among 15 horses to stand their ground for the the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp on Sunday following the first forfeit stage.

French Derby hero Ace Impact is the clear favourite to provide trainer Jean-Claude Rouget with his second victory in Europe’s premier middle-distance contest, following the success of Sottsass three years ago, but looks set to face a strong challenge from across the Channel.

The Owen Burrows-trained Hukum and Ralph Beckett’s Westover look the pick of the British contingent, with both having been kept fresh since their titanic tussle in the King George at Ascot in July.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Bay Bridge and John and Thady Gosden’s Free Wind, the potential final Arc ride for Frankie Dettori, also remain in contention.

Aidan O’Brien has left in Emily Dickinson, but on Sunday indicated she is likely to head for the Prix du Cadran instead, paving the way for his St Leger hero Continuous to be supplemented on Wednesday.

Irish hopes could also be carried by Sprewell from Jessica Harrington’s yard.

Ace Impact winning the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club
Ace Impact winning the Qatar Prix du Jockey Club (ScoopDyga/France Galop)

Other contenders for the home team include Pascal Bary’s Grand Prix de Paris hero Feed The Flame, last seen finishing second in the Prix Niel, and Simca Mille from Stephane Wattel’s yard.

The latter has won twice and finished second twice from four visits to the track and was last seen breaking his Group One duck in the Grosser Preis von Berlin at Hoppegarten in August.

Wattel said: “I have to say everything is fine, he’s in good shape and he has done some nice work. We are expecting good ground, which is important for him, and really I am happy with his condition.

“I don’t think we will have heavy ground and that would have been a reason not to run.

“I am really happy to have a runner in the Arc, not a first (top) chance but a fair chance to run well, which is exciting for us as a stable.

“He loves Longchamp and has always run very well there, which gives us a little more expectation than if we were running in England.

“I know the quality of the English horses and I know the quality of the two three-year-old French horses (Ace Impact and Feed The Flame), but our horse is running on his best racetrack and hopefully his best ground, so that gives us a little more chance.”

The German pair of Sisfahan and Mr Hollywood (Henk Grewe), Japan’s Through Seven Seas (Tomohito Ozeki), Haya Zark (Adrien Fouassier), Onesto (Fabrice Chappet) and Place Du Carrousel (Andre Fabre) are the others in the mix.

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Hukum team look like favouring direct route to Arc

Hukum appears increasingly likely to head straight for the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe following his heroic success in last month’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

The six-year-old edged out Westover in an epic renewal of Ascot’s midsummer showpiece, his second win at Group One level having landed last year’s Coronation Cup at Epsom before suffering an injury.

Having proved his ability remains very much intact, connections are happy to keep their powder dry for Europe’s premier middle-distance contest on October 1.

“Touch wood he’s in good shape and he seemed to come out of it well,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.

“I haven’t spoken to Owen (Burrows, trainer) particularly about it, but from what I saw quoted I think he’s happy to go straight to the Arc unless something else presented itself.

“He’s a dual Group One winner, so we don’t have to run him just for the sake of it, and I think if we got him to Longchamp in good shape, he’d have a decent chance.

“That’s our job now, to get him there in the best possible shape.”

Jim Crowley celebrates winning the Nassau Stakes aboard Al Husn
Jim Crowley celebrates winning the Nassau Stakes aboard Al Husn (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The Shadwell team enjoyed further Group One success at Goodwood last week, with the Roger Varian-trained Al Husn springing a minor upset in the Nassau Stakes.

She holds entries in the Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville and the Yorkshire Oaks at York before the end of this month, while a trip to the Breeders’ Cup could be on her agenda later in the year.

Gold added: “She’s in the Romanet and she’s in the Yorkshire Oaks. I was just speaking to Roger this morning and if we want to go further he’s always said he’d love to end up in America with her, possibly with the Prix de l’Opera at Longchamp as a race before then.

“We’re in the lucky position now where we’re not trying to make a Group One winner, she has achieved that, so we can just wait and see.

“She must have had a relatively hard race last week, although she’s a tough as nails, and now she’s a Group One winner we want to do the right thing by her.

“The options are the Romanet and the Yorkshire Oaks, or neither and just concentrate on the Opera and then maybe go to America.

“I was speaking to Roger this morning and we said Sheikha Hissa might be able to come to York and she might like to see her run. There’s lots of things to work out, so we’ll have a good think about it early next week and see what everyone thinks is the right course of action.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Jim Crowley banned for 20 days and fined £10,000 for Hukum ride

Jim Crowley has been banned for 20 days and fined £10,000 for his winning ride aboard Hukum in Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Both Crowley and Rob Hornby, who finished second aboard Westover, were referred to the British Horseracing Authority’s Whip Review Committee following a duel to the line in the midsummer highlight, with Hukum prevailing by a head.

Flat riders are allowed to use their whip six times in a race, with a four-day ban for going one over the limit and seven days for going two over. Crowley used his whip nine times, which incurs a 10-day ban and is doubled for a class one race.

Had Crowley used his whip four times over the limit then Hukum would have been disqualified.

Westover (left) and Hukum fought out a thrilling finish to the King George
Westover (left) and Hukum fought out a thrilling finish to the King George (Adam Davy/PA)

The rider will be banned August 15-21 and August 23 – September 4, meaning he misses the Ebor meeting at York, where he was due to ride runaway Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International. He also received the substantial fine due to the class and value of the race.

On Monday the whip rules were tweaked once more by the BHA following a six-month review period and while the changes would not have affected Crowley’s punishment due to the severity of his offence, Hornby has benefitted from the revisions.

He used his whip once above the permitted level, but given he has had more than 200 rides in Britain since his last whip offence, his initial ban was cut to two days. However, that is then doubled due to the calibre of race, meaning he will be out of action for four days (August 15-18 inclusive).

Had the rules not been changed 24 hours previously, Hornby would have had an eight-day suspension imposed.

Crowley had anticipated a significant punishment, but felt the penalty was “severe”.

He said: “I’m extremely disappointed, obviously I had an inkling it was coming so I prepared myself. I can’t change it, I’ve got to get on with it.

“I don’t think anything untoward has happened to those horses in any way, it was a brilliant race. I used my whip in a very correct manner, how I’ve been brought up to use it.

“I gave the horse time to respond, we never used it in any incorrect place or at shoulder height or anything like that. Unfortunately it’s not something I was aware that I’d done, and neither was Rob.

“It’s very difficult to count in that scenario. If you’re in a men’s final playing tennis, you’re concentrating on everything else and not counting in your head.

“Rules are rules but it’s very severe, I can’t change it. It is what it is.”

When asked if he would consider an appeal, Crowley said: “I haven’t had chance to discuss it with anybody yet, I found out 10 minutes ago so I’ll let it sink in.

“Although I broke the rules and I wasn’t aware I broke the rules, I didn’t think it was a problem watching the race. The horse’s welfare always comes first and to me that wasn’t a problem.

“I think they’ve been very severe and ruled with an iron fist, they don’t want the win-at-all cost races. Jockeys aren’t aware they’re doing it, that’s the problem.

“When you’re in a finish you are aware that you need to be careful, but you cannot physically count. You’re trying to keep your horse straight – if those horses had touched, if there had been any interference in anyway, one of them would have got chucked out.

“You’re trying to keep your horse straight, you’re in a rhythm with the horse. Both of us were unaware pulling up, which tells you that we didn’t think we’d gone over the limit.

“It’s very unfortunate but it shouldn’t take away from a brilliant race and a fantastic horse. I hope this doesn’t overshadow that.”

Hornby echoed those sentiments and admitted he did not initially think he had contravened the rules.

He said: “I wasn’t aware on the day, not at all. In fact I was kicking myself as I thought I’d only done five (strokes) – that shows what my counting is like in that situation.

“I’m sure Jim is the same. It’s a shame that it has cast a shadow over such a brilliant race, it should be remembered for two great horses.”

Rob Hornby will miss four days through suspension
Rob Hornby will miss four days through suspension (Mike Egerton/PA)

A spokesperson for the BHA underlined the rarity of such a sizeable ban resulting from a headline contest, but also pointed out the aim of the revised rules was to deter such use of the whip.

They said: “The use of the whip in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes was not reflective of the riding we have generally seen in major races since the introduction of the new rules. For example, the Cheltenham, Aintree, Epsom and Royal Ascot meetings have all taken place this year without a single rider using the whip above the permitted level on a winning ride.

“Specific thresholds for whip use is now standard policy amongst most major racing nations, including all of our nearest neighbours.

“On Saturday the whip was used three times above the permitted level on the winner, for which there is very little justification.

“It is to deter whip use like this that strict penalties are in place, especially in major races.

“They are designed not only to safeguard the perception of the sport, but also maintain fairness in close finishes, encouraging riders to stay within the rules, in the interest of the betting public and fellow riders.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Crowley shoulders ‘huge punishment’ for winning ride on Hukum

Jim Crowley is set to miss the ride on Mostahdaf at York after picking up what is believed to be a significant suspension for his winning ride on Hukum in Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Crowley and Westover’s jockey Rob Hornby, who finished second, were both referred to the British Horseracing Authority’s Whip Review Committee in the wake of what was unforgettable finish to the midsummer showpiece.

Flat riders are allowed to use their whip six times in a race, with a four-day ban for going one over the limit and seven days for going two over. Crowley reportedly used his whip nine times, which incurs a 10-day ban and is doubled for a class one race.

Had Crowley used his whip four times over the limit then Hukum would have been disqualified.

The punishment is doubled-edged for Crowley as he was due to ride runaway Prince of Wales’s Stakes winner Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International at the Ebor meeting.

On Monday the whip rules were tweaked once more by the BHA following a six-month review period, but the changes would not have affected Crowley’s punishment due to the severity of his offence.

Speaking to ITV Racing before any official publication of the committee’s findings, Crowley said: “It’s a huge punishment. I spoke to Rob and neither of us knew we had gone over.

“I had absolutely no idea. When we go out we are aware of the whip rules and aware of the severity of them.

“In the finish we are both thinking, ‘don’t go over’, as one thing and secondly you are trying to keep the momentum of your horse, you can’t cause any interference as a slight bump and you could get chucked out. You are trying to stay in rhythm with the horse and you are really in the zone.

“That is not to say you are not thinking about the whip because you are, but it is very difficult to be counting the strokes when you are in that scenario. It’s not a win-at-all costs ride, but it is so difficult, until you are in that situation yourself – it is hard to explain.

“Neither of us were aware we’d gone over, that’s the worrying thing. We got back to the weighing room and got a tap on the shoulder and straight away a feeling of dread comes over you.

Jim Crowley at Ascot
Jim Crowley at Ascot (Adam Davy/PA)

“Imagine a tennis player in the Wimbledon final, you are not counting numbers in your head – it’s very difficult.

“The rules are the rules. Does the punishment fit the crime? I don’t think so, but I would say that. It’s going to be a tough pill to swallow.

“Some jockeys were consulted about the rules, there’s a bit of a stigma about that, but I can guarantee you know there isn’t a jockey in that weighing room who agrees with the rules.

“Neither jockey went out there to win at all costs. It was a mistake, it’s very unfortunate. He’s my favourite horse, it’s a shame it’s worked out this way.”

Ralph Beckett, the trainer of Westover, said: “I think once you put a finite number on it, you run into more problems than you solve and that is where we are now, we’ve created more problems than we’ve solved.

“Westover is fine, he bounced out of it and if I showed you a video you’d say he was ready to go again.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Monday Musings: A Smack in the Mouth

Now I know what it feels like, writes Tony Stafford. Coming to the end of my eighth decade, I can now honestly tell you what it is to experience pain. Thinking back to my football days, a broken wrist and a regularly sprained ankle were about the size of it.

I’m sure every woman past puberty has been doubled up on a regular basis and most sportsmen – none more so than jockeys – accept it as part and parcel of their lives. Sorry Keith - and boxers!

But I’ve poodled along and, despite the odd bit of skin cancer on my face and Type 2 diabetes for the past 15 years which has realistically only involved taking the tablets (and not passing up biscuits and cakes), have had a trouble-free run. My friend George Hill, who has had his share of scary medical issues over the years, always says I’m made of tungsten. The tungsten has run out.

It started a few months ago with a twinge in the corner of the mouth, usually when eating. That developed to such an extent that I went to a dentist to see if there was a problem. Nothing on the X-ray.

The pain got worse – not permanent, just intermittent concentrated bursts for seconds or minutes, often while eating in company with friends at the races or in restaurants with my wife. How embarrassing! Ask the editor!

I finally booked an appointment with the doctor for last Thursday but went to watch Ray Tooth’s Glen Again at Sandown the previous evening. It was after his race, trying to have something in the owners’ room that the pain got unbearable.

The nice guy who monitors the room and likes Chelsea FC and Surrey CCC said: “If you need painkillers go to the First Aid room in the main stand.” I did, to be greeted with a: “Painkillers won’t make a difference. I think I know what you have.”

To my shame, I didn’t take down her name, but this highly capable woman told me that she had been originally a dental nurse and for 30 years a paramedic. She was clearly the boss, working very congenially it seemed with her two male colleagues: “It’s trigeminal neuralgia.” Relief, I know what it is. I’ll tell the doctor tomorrow.

Then I Googled it after I left her room and, for relief, read horror as I realised I will have this condition for the rest of my life.

I slunk to the surgery on Thursday, telling the GP the symptoms and it took about ten seconds for him to repeat the dreaded name. “I’m pretty sure it’s trigeminal neuralgia, but it’s not entirely certain. We’ll prescribe the usual drug for the condition. Start with one a day for a few days, then go to two.

Thursday, Friday, I had one each day. Saturday, I went to Ascot, had the good fortune to be in a box where the food was laid out in glorious, nay luxurious profusion. To that point, all I’d managed to get down me from Wednesday had been a couple of coffees and a diet coke, but anything that involved access to the right-hand side of my mouth was the inevitable trigger for another shooting pain.

On Wednesday evening, post paramedic, I was trying to put away a little soft dessert, to no avail, and recently retired trainer Harry Dunlop hove into view. I was keen to ask him what he was doing now and just as I began, the pain came at maximum force. All I could do was stand there like a moron; mouth open trying to stave off the agony. Kindly, with an apologetic smile, he moved away.

So what is trigeminal neuralgia? It stems from the trigeminal nerve, the biggest nerve in the brain. That sends signals of pain to the face, ear, upper and lower jaw and teeth. When it gets damaged for whatever reason, the neuralgia follows.

The literature says that the sharp pain, like an electric shock, can be induced by talking, smiling, chewing, brushing your teeth, washing your face, a light touch, shaving (or putting on make-up – pass), swallowing, kissing, a cool breeze or air conditioning, head movements, vibrations, such as walking or travelling in a car. If that catalogue wasn’t comprehensive enough, it can happen spontaneously with no trigger at all.

Looks like I’ll have to change many of the things I thought I could do!

The literature suggests it can never be cured, the medication – a smaller dose, but the same that is given to epilepsy patients, great news eh -  can help ease or even stave it off for periods, but it’s always lurking in the background. A bit like the tablets I must take for the diabetes.

If you’d have asked me yesterday morning how I felt, it was still at stage one. I was beginning to see why patients with this condition can go into depression or even worse. I won’t. At Ascot, I drank a coffee without incident, but thinking soup would be the only sensible option, I asked if they had any and a nice bowl of tomato was put in front of me.

I needed two goes. The first when I managed three spoonfuls; the second, a third of a bowl, before the wave of pain sailed in. That was game, set and match and after the King George I went straight home.

Yesterday, though, the fourth day of medication and the second with the full daily dose of two tablets, I thought I would try to drink my soup rather than eat in the conventional way, for lunch. That worked. For dinner, a Tesco Fish Pie, spooned minutely so that it took 25 minutes to consume, also went without a problem, although two or three times, the hint was there. So, you pause, take even more care for the positioning of the next morsel. For now, I’m still clear.

The menu is to go back for a blood test tomorrow (Tuesday) and see the doctor again on Thursday week. As I write this, for the first time in weeks I’m feeling optimistic. Maybe the tungsten is still in there somewhere, but boy does it hurt when that shockwave of pain comes!


Two years ago, I sat down – eating again, in the days when I could – having a bite before racing at Brighton racecourse and for the first time, met and had a chat with Owen Burrows. He was clearly anxious about his future as Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum had recently died and the entire Shadwell Estate Company organisation was very much up in the air.

He told me: “There’s a big meeting in Dubai next week and all the trainers are worried that the Sheikh’s daughter Sheikha Hissa and the rest of the family won’t be inclined or even able to keep it going.”

At that time most of Owen’s horses ran in the blue and white Hamdan livery and with the prospect of massive numbers of mares, horses in training and young stock on their way to market, it was understandable the uncertainty, indeed trepidation, that all the Shadwell trainers were feeling.

Project forward two years to Saturday July 29th 2023 and within 25 minutes, Owen’s older generation horses in the Shadwell ownership collected two big prizes. The four-year-old Alflaila, in his first run since last autumn, made it four wins in a row and six from 13 career, in the £70k to the winner Sky Bet Stakes at York.

Then at Ascot in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes, his Hukum picked up almost exactly ten times that in beating last year’s Irish Derby winner Westover after a sustained battle. Jim Crowley, used to winning big races as recently as last year on Baaed, expressed great joy at picking up this massive pot with a six-year-old entire, whose tally over five seasons’ racing is 11 from 17. At six, he matches dual winner Swain and triple heroine Enable, the only previous horses of that age to win the race in its 73-year history.

This was a second flop of the year for Derby and Irish Derby winner Auguste Rodin, whose sudden capitulation before the home turn after which Ryan Moore looked after him, coasting home a long way behind, was a shock, no doubt especially to connections. Minute medical checks will be taken, but Auguste Rodin was not the only disappointment in the race.

Emily Upjohn, who gave Paddington such a brave fight in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown three weeks earlier, probably left her race on the Esher slopes, and never looked like getting Frankie Dettori a last King George winner, finishing 27 lengths behind the first two in seventh.

The Classic generation form was given a small nudge by King Of Steel, second in the Derby clear of the rest and an easy Royal Ascot winner. For a while it looked as though Kevin Stott was bringing the Amo Racing/ Roger Varian representative with a telling run, but he weakened and had to be content with an honourable third.

Tough stuff this Group 1 racing, especially in soft ground. Hukum is tough and Owen Burrows knows how to keep his golden oldies going.

- TS

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Arc tilt beckons for Hukum following Ascot heroics

Owen Burrows feels he has a lot to thank Hukum for as he prepares to send his King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes champion straight to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

The six-year-old has won 11 of his 17 career starts and it was somewhat fitting that having provided the Lambourn-based handler with both his first Royal Ascot and Group One winner, Hukum was front and centre once again as Burrows enjoyed his finest hour in the training ranks.

Having downed last year’s Derby winner Desert Crown on his comeback from a career-threatening injury sustained when winning the 2022 Coronation Cup, Baaeed’s brother was at the peak of his powers in the hands of Jim Crowley in Ascot’s midsummer showpiece to tee up a trip to Paris on the first Sunday in October.

As short as 6-1 for the Arc, Burrows is determined to enjoy Hukum while he can as he begins to dream of victory in Europe’s richest middle-distance contest.

He said: “I owe him a lot. He’s been around for a while, he was my first Royal Ascot winner and my first Group One winner.

“We travelled him to Dubai after the sad passing of Sheikh Hamdan and that was a big thing for him to win over there on Super Saturday as well.

“He’s been a tremendous horse in my career and he’ll be very hard to replace, but we’ll enjoy him while we can.”

He went on: “He’s all well this morning. He ate up and he’s been out and had a lead out and a nice pick of grass and trotted up sound, so touch wood all good.

Hukum (right) winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot
Hukum (right) winning the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot (Adam Davy/PA)

“The Arc is something like eight weeks today and that is the obvious plan now. The plan has always been King George in the summer and then trying to get him to France in the beginning of October and now we can start dreaming.”

All of Hukum’s victories have come on ground no quicker than good and having proven very effective with a little cut in the ground, there are plenty of positive signs ahead of Hukum’s autumn visit to the French capital for a race often run in testing conditions.

Burrows added: “He would go on faster ground and it was pretty quick in the Sheema Classic when he was only beaten a length and three-quarters.

“But he’s obviously had a hard enough race there yesterday and knowing we can get him cherry ripe following a layoff, I don’t think we need to be giving him a prep run.

“I would love to get him to the Arc and I think we would be talking about soft ground. Yesterday Jim (Crowley) felt it was a little bit dead ground, there wasn’t a lot of life in it. He handles most ground, but he obviously handles soft ground very well and we can dream.”

Trainer Owen Burrows enjoyed a big-race double thanks to Hukum and Aflaila
Trainer Owen Burrows enjoyed a big-race double thanks to Hukum and Aflaila (John Walton/PA)

Hukum’s victory came just 25 minutes after another of Burrows’ Farncombe Down string, Aflaila, landed the Group Two York Stakes to give the handler a fantastic cross-card Group-race double.

He has been inundated with congratulatory messages since and admits it did take some time for the achievement to sink in.

“It’s been quite busy and I’m literally sitting down trying to work through all the messages, but it is going to take me a while,” said Burrows.

“I’ll admit yesterday I was a bit shellshocked, but now it is finally sinking in and what a day, what a great day.

“I’ve not been at it too long (training), but it was well documented this horse (Hukum) was injured at Epsom last year and to get him back to this level is a huge team effort. From the guys at Shadwell who rehabbed him, to my guys here at Farncombe, it’s a big big team effort.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Crowley hails ‘special’ race as Hukum takes King George title

Sport does not always scale the heights anticipated. Yet inarguably, with toes hanging off the edge, this King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes offered an epic view.

One wishes more dare scale the steep, magnificent Ascot grandstand steps to witness such an incredible spectacle of rippling thoroughbred power.

On such occasions, one has a vague idea of what will unfold before the eyes. This was refreshingly different, there was not an inkling what to expect from either racegoers or participants.

“No-one is ducking it,” Hukum’s jockey Jim Crowley succinctly put it beforehand, “which means everyone fancied their chances.”

None more so than him, as it turned out.

This season’s search for such a clash of the crème de la crème had reached the rainbow’s end, for this was as close to nirvana as a horse race gets.

There had been very little swinging and missing. Emily Upjohn had won the Coronation, with runner-up Westover subsequently taking the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud.

Reigning champion Pyledriver had scored with ease on his belated comeback in the Hardwicke, dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin had only been luckless in the 2000 Guineas, and the other young pretender, King Of Steel, had gained compensation for a narrow Epsom defeat by taking the King Edward VII over course and distance. Luxembourg had a Tattersalls Gold Cup in the locker.

All in good form. Connections, to a man, hopeful if not confident, even given the unseasonably good to soft ground.

Hukum is welcomed in by Shadwell owner Sheika Hissa (Simon Milham/PA)

Superlatives are dangerous things, often inviting contradiction and sometimes scorn. Yet from overture to curtain, what unfolded was a drama for the ages, perhaps not quite on a par with Grundy and Bustino in 1975, yet ovation-worthy, nonetheless.

The bare result saw Hukum beat Westover by a head. King Of Steel was a further four and a half lengths back in third, with Auguste Rodin beaten before the race got started, suggesting something more than the ground was amiss.

Crowley had tasted some extraordinary moments with Hukum’s full brother Baaeed. Yet after a monumental battle with the doughty Westover for the last two furlongs, Rob Hornby’s mount matching the six-year-old blow for lung-busting blow, and having come out on top, the victor knew he had been part of another historic race.

“This was special,” said Crowley. “It was a great race to be part of. I knew going into the race, I wouldn’t swap him – and every jockey in the race said the same about their horse.

“Hence why everybody turned up as we all thought we could win.

“It was amazing, really. Both myself, the horse, Rob Hornby and Westover, were giving it everything. The kitchen sink is thrown in those situations.

“It must have been exciting to watch. To come out on top, it was fantastic, probably the most enjoyable race I’ve ever won. It was a race for the ages – just fantastic.”

Crowley’s ride was masterful. There were plenty in with chances as they swung six abreast round the home turn tracking Pyledriver. While he had to be reminded, Hukum lengthened his stride with a sudden explosive power that is flat racing’s most exhilarating sight.

Pyledriver and King Of Steel both ran their races, but while Crowley was was happily deciding they were beaten, he knew with greater certainty that once Westover had almost drawn upsides, the game could well have been up.

Yet the former champion has been here before and once Westover had served it up, Hukum had locked on to the task in hand and knocked it out of the park.

“The ground had dried out more than I was hoping for, but he is not essentially a soft-ground horse – he just likes good ground,” Crowley added.

“He missed the Hardwicke, which was good to firm and that was a good decision.

“He is just a very good horse who is getting better with age. He is finally coming out of his brother’s shadow now.

“He is just hard as nails, he is chilled, walks round the paddock like he owns the place – he’s a real dude.

“In some ways he’s flown under the radar, as he is a six-year-old, who has just won that one Group One, but if you go through his form, he hasn’t finished out the first three many times. He is a proper, tough horse.”

Hukum will likely be given a break, before being brought back for ParisLongchamp.

“You’d have to say the obvious race would be the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe now,” said Crowley. “He would get his conditions there and you always need a bit of luck round there – a low draw is very important. But let’s enjoy today – this was special.”

His victims offered no excuses, this was just a rare and precious thing – an entirely satisfactory all-aged midsummer highlight, won by the best horse and a great rider. This was as good as it gets.

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Hukum pips Westover in King George thriller

Hukum edged out Westover in a pulsating renewal of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes.

A field of 10 runners went to post for the Ascot’s midsummer highlight and the mile-and-a-half contest was rightly billed as the race of the season so far.

Last year’s Coronation Cup hero Hukum was a 13-2 shot after returning from injury to see off the 2022 Derby hero Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown in May.

Always travelling well in the middle of the pack under Jim Crowley, the six-year-old moved up to challenge Westover for the lead passing the two-furlong marker and the pair settled down to fight it out from there.

No quarter was given by either horse or jockey, but it was the Owen Burrows-trained Hukum who just found most for pressure to win a race for the ages by a head.

King Of Steel was best of the rest in third ahead of Luxembourg in fourth and the defending champion Pyledriver in fifth.

The disappointment of the race was dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin. The 9-4 favourite was trapped wide throughout, came under pressure racing down the back straight and weakened quickly before being eased right down by Ryan Moore, eventually passing the post in last place.

Burrows said: “I’m just speechless. He’s an absolute star, isn’t he.

“It is a big team effort – I have a great team behind me. My head lad rides him every day, John Lake.

“To be honest, we felt he has never been better, this season for whatever reason, he’s shown a lot more speed. But what a tough horse – and he had to be, because the second didn’t lay down, did he? He made us fight all the way.

“What a race. It lived up to its spectacle. I’m a bit hoarse from shouting.

“What can you say about him – he’s an absolute star. I can’t put into words what it means. I’m in my second season as a public trainer and we have a great team. The guys back at Shadwell rehabbed him after his injury at Epsom – huge credit to them.

“It was the type of injury that wouldn’t retire a horse, but he’d just won a Group One and he was five, so you think – hats off to Sheikha Hissa for giving him a chance.”

Hukum won the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020
Hukum won the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2020 (Edward Whitaker/PA)

He added: “This horse has been a huge part of my career. He is my first Royal Ascot winner, first Group One winner and he won in Dubai when we first went out after the sad passing of Sheikh Hamdan, so to come back and so what he’s done is just amazing.”

Crowley said: “It was a performance of pure determination. The race went smoothly, I had a nice position, I got onto the back of Westover turning in and had to hope that something didn’t come from out of the pack because in fairness to the second, he didn’t lie down.

“Full credit to Sheikha Hissa because this horse could quite easily have gone off to stud after winning the Coronation Cup, being how he’s bred, but they decided to keep him in training and they’ve been rewarded.

“It’s a good training performance as well. This horse was off for a while, it was a brave decision not to run in the Hardwicke (at Royal Ascot last month) and it came to fruition today.

“It was the best King George on paper I’ve seen for a while and it was nice for him to win in the manner that he did.”

Aidan O’Brien was at a loss to explain Auguste Rodin’s effort, with the colt beaten a long way from home.

He said: “There are no excuses. Whatever happened, the power ran out and it ran out early.

“That is the unusual thing. The race wasn’t even started.

“He was calm in the paddock, we were very happy with him. There is obviously a reason and we’ll find it. It is frustrating, but that’s the way.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Crowley thrilled to be heading for stellar King George on Hukum

Hukum’s jockey Jim Crowley is excited to be part of Saturday’s King George VI And Queen Elizabeth II Qipco Stakes and hailed one of the deepest renewals in recent years as “great for the sport”.

The Group One Ascot showpiece looks set to feature Derby one-two Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, last year’s Epsom hero Desert Crown, defending champion Pyledriver and the first two home from the Coronation Cup, Emily Upjohn and Westover among others.

The Owen Burrows-trained Hukum, who won last year’s Coronation Cup before injury sidelined him for a year, returned to defeat Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown in May.

With the ground currently described as good, good to soft in places at Ascot and rain forecast on Wednesday evening, connections of the Shadwell-owned Hukum are growing increasingly confident that the six-year-old will handle the white-hot opposition.

Crowley is happier when he lets his riding do the talking and the former champion jockey knows the quality of the opposition could not be higher.

“All I can say is that Hukum is in great form. It is a very, very good race – the best King George I’ve seen on paper for a long, long time, and it is great to be part of it,” he said.

“The horse is in great form going into the race and that is all we can ask for. If he is good enough, he is good enough.

“It is great to be part of it and great to be riding a horse with a chance in it.”

Hukum goes into the contest as the winner of six of his last eight races. The two defeats came by a head to Hamish in the September Stakes at Kempton in 2021 and by a length and three-quarters to Shahryar in the 2022 Dubai Sheema Classic.

After making a pleasing return at Sandown and following sustained support in recent days, he is now vying for favouritism with Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel with some bookmakers.

Crowley has ridden in most of the top races around the world, yet sees the mile and a half midsummer spectacular as one of the most eagerly-anticipated in recent times.

“I’m the same as all the other jockeys, really – it is going to be very exciting for a lot of people to watch and it is going to be very exciting to ride in it, but on the other hand, it is very important,” he said.

“It is great for the sport – it is what people want, isn’t it? It is our version of the Arc.

“No-one is ducking it, so that means everyone fancies their chances. It is when they don’t fancy their chances they start ducking it.”

Crowley added: “We are very happy with him and very respectful of the opposition, because it is a very good race. Any rain would not be a negative, it would be beneficial to him.”

Hukum’s connections will be content, with almost their ideal ground conditions on the cards.

Ascot’s clerk of the course Chris Stickels is expecting overnight rain into Thursday.

Speaking at 4pm on Wednesday, he said: “The going is good on the straight course, and good (good to soft in places) on the round course. We had two millimetres of rain on Monday and have not had any since.

“We are expecting rain this evening and through the night. The ground would be getting quicker as we speak – it would be getting close to good to firm now in places – but obviously it is going to rain, so, we won’t see that change. We are expecting between seven and 15 millimetres.

“Until we get the rain we don’t know what the going will be but 12 millimetres will probably make us good to soft.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns

Hukum on course for King George outing

Hukum remains on target for what looks set to be a mouthwatering edition of the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes at Ascot on July 29.

Owen Burrows’ stable star was forced to miss the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot due to the prevailing quick ground given he had only recently come back from a serious injury.

He clearly retains all his ability, though, as on his first outing for 356 days he toppled the hitherto unbeaten Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.

The Hardwicke was ultimately won by William Muir and Chris Grassick’s Pyledriver, last year’s King George victor, and he will be lying in wait again. Hukum already has one verdict over him in last year’s Coronation Cup.

Also on course for the King George at present are this year’s Derby one-two Auguste Rodin and King Of Steel, plus Coronation Cup winner Emily Upjohn, with the possibility of Desert Crown, Luxembourg and Westover running, too.

“Touch wood, everything is going well and he’ll be running in the King George,” said Burrows.

“We’d like to see some rain, of course, we’d never want to go on rattling quick.

“It was frustrating to miss the Hardwicke with him, but the King George is the big one for him.

“The King George has always been about the clash of the generations and this year that looks especially the case. We’ll see what turns up, but it looks like this year it is going to be a proper race.

“We were really pleased with him at Sandown, we’ve been happy with how he’s been since, so we’re really looking forward to running him.”

Try Tix for Better Tote Returns