Runaway Cumberland Lodge winner Hukum could be set for a trip overseas with connections considering a tilt at the Hong Kong Vase.
The Shadwell-owned four-year-old trounced his rivals in the Ascot Group Three, starting as favourite and triumphing by six and a half lengths under Jim Crowley.
The run was the culmination of a successful British season that has seen the Owen Burrows-trained colt lift three Group Three prizes and barely go unplaced in seven runs at Listed level or above.
There will be no more outings on home soil this season – but Burrows does have an eye on the Group One Hong Kong Vase, over a mile and a half at Sha Tin racecourse on December 12 for a purse of HK$18million.
“We’ve entered him in Hong Kong for the Vase, there’ll be nothing before that,” Burrows said.
“It’s not a definite, but we’ve stuck him in and we’ll go from there.
“It’s in the middle of December so we’re two months away still, he seems to have taken Ascot very well but it is still some time away, so we’ll see closer to the time.”
The Hong Kong race is run on turf but conditions are unlikely to be similar to the Ascot’s soft going, something Burrows feels can flatter horses that can perform on it.
“He was visually very impressive (at Ascot) but you always think, when the ground is soft like that, you can be a bit flattered,” he said.
“He’s been a really good horse for us this year, though, and that was a very taking performance.”
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Hukum is reported to be in good health again as he bids to win a third Group Three race in a row in the Unibet September Stakes at Kempton on Saturday.
The four-year-old colt has looked good with victories in the John Smith’s Silver Cup at York and the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on his last two starts.
Trainer Owen Burrows was thinking of running him in France until the horse gave an unsatisfactory scope last week. Hukum has been fine this week, persuading connections to return the four-year-old to the fray.
“Touch wood, he seems grand. It’s a nice spot again for him so fingers crossed,” said the Lambourn handler.
“We were looking at a Group Two in France last week and he had his normal scopes before and there was a little bit of mucus there. It didn’t grow any infection, but we didn’t want to be take him over there like that. In hindsight, it may have done us a favour.
“It wasn’t meant to be and this was coming a week or so later. We were lucky he didn’t get any infection so he didn’t need any antibiotics.
“I’ve been pleased with him this week so we thought we’d have a go.”
Charlie Fellowes is hoping he has Prince Of Arran back to his best for his third crack at this race, having finished third in the last two years.
“Prince Of Arran is in great form. Jamie Spencer rode him last week and said he felt a completely different horse to the one he rode in the spring. He seems in a much happier place mentally,” said the Newmarket handler.
“He just needed time to get over his runs in Australia as they took a lot out of him. He likes Kempton, but hates it when there is no pace in the race. It looks like there will be some pace as hopefully Archie’s (Watson) horse (Outbox) will go forward and give the race a decent gallop.
“If they go a nice gallop, he will run a nice race as he seems in good form and he loves Kempton.”
Hamish finally has his first run since June 2020, having been sidelined through injury.
Trainer William Haggas withdrew the five-year-old from the Ebor at York two weeks ago as the ground was too quick.
“I wanted try to win the Ebor with him, but unfortunately the ground wasn’t right for him. I could have run him if I wanted to, but we want to look after him,” he said.
“It was a tendon injury that he picked up, but he has had a clear run now. The conditions here will be suitable and I just want to get a run into him now.
“I think he is in pretty good shape considering he has been off for a long time. It was a good run he put up in last year’s Hardwicke Stakes from a moderate position and he came home well that day, while his three-year-old form stacks up nicely.”
Hugo Palmer feels the hat-trick-seeking Hierarchy has plenty going for him in the Unibet 3 Uniboosts A Day Sirenia Stakes.
The Mehmas colt successfully followed up his winning debut at Wolverhampton with victory in a novice event at Salisbury.
Palmer said: “His heart is in the right place and he seems to be improving as a two-year-old. He is showing the general public what he can do in the afternoon opposed to showing it in the morning, as he definitely saves his best for racing.
“He handles the surface, has a nice a draw and has got the momentum behind him.
“He is very much a two-year-old and though I’m not saying he will not make it at three, he would need to grow and develop.”
David Loughnane expects Fearless Angel to appreciate the step up in trip judging by her staying-on fifth over five furlongs in a Listed event at Newbury.
“She has done everything right since she has come to us. She was unlucky not to get a bit of black type last time,” said the Shropshire handler.
“She was a fraction slow away and she didn’t get into stride straight away, so she had to sit and suffer but she hit the line strongly.
“I think the all-weather will suit her and six furlongs won’t be a problem. We are hopeful of a good run.”
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Owen Burrows expects Hukum to put up a staunch defence of his crown in the BetVictor Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The four-year-old successfully stepped up from handicap company to Group Three level with victory in this race 12 months ago and returns at the top of his game.
So far this season Hukum has won the Tapster Stakes at Goodwood and the Silver Cup at York, with an excellent run to finish third behind star mare Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot sandwiched in between.
A Group Three penalty for his latest triumph means the Sea The Stars colt must concede weight all round this weekend, but Burrows is nevertheless anticipating a bold showing.
He said: “His run in the Hardwicke was probably the best run of his life, I suppose – he had two Group One winners (Wonderful Tonight and Broome) in front of him.
“He obviously won well at York. He was in at Goodwood the other day, but we’ve waited for this race and, touch wood, he’s in great form.
“He’ll have to carry a 3lb penalty, but there isn’t really a suitable Group Two option for him in Britain. I’m actually going to enter him in a Group Two at Deauville at the end of the month.
“He’ll have to carry a penalty on Saturday, but so be it. We’ll give it a shot and see what happens.”
One of the biggest threats to Hukum is Hugo Palmer’s progressive filly Golden Pass.
An all-the-way winner of the Listed Aphrodite Stakes at Newmarket last month, the four-year-old was subsequently taken out of the Lillie Langtry at Goodwood on account of the testing conditions.
Palmer said: “She’ll love the drying ground. I was aiming to run her at Deauville, but I just can’t trust the drying ground over there, so we thought we’d stay at home.
“She’s been in very good form and I think the step up in trip should bring about some improvement, so fingers crossed.”
The William Haggas-trained Pablo Escobarr has not managed to get his head in front since winning the Glorious Stakes at Goodwood last summer, and most recently finished fifth in the same race a fortnight ago.
“He’s a regular in these kind of races and seems really well,” said Haggas.
“I hope he’ll run a good race. Hukum is the danger, I think.”
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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.”
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.
“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.
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Tabdeed will bid for a repeat of last year’s victory in the bet365 Hackwood Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.
The Owen Burrows-trained chestnut returned to action at Newcastle recently with a fine fourth in the Chipchase Stakes to Chil Chil, who ran well in the July Cup subsequently.
“I was very pleased with him at Newcastle in the Chipchase and that should have put him about spot on,” said Burrows.
“David (Probert) kicked himself a little as he said if he’d just followed the winner through he’d have been a bit closer.
“He just got a little tired in the last half a furlong – which he was entitled to – and I’ve been pleased with him since.
“There’s not many in it. Given what David said we might have been second last time with a clear run and given we know he likes that race it’s the plan to run him.
“As long as it’s not very soft or very quick he’ll be happy, it was on the fast side of good last year when he won it and if it’s that again we’ll be pleased.”
Burrows has some thinking to do regarding Hukum’s next target.
The four-year-old got back to winning ways with a stylish display in the John Smith’s Silver Cup over a mile and three-quarters at York on Saturday, having run well in the Hardwicke at Ascot.
He now has options at Goodwood, in France and further afield. But as yet none are set in stone.
“I had a brief chat with Angus (Gold, Shadwell racing manager) pretty soon after the race about plans,” said Burrows.
“There’s a Group Three at Goodwood, the Glorious Stakes, which is 20 days from Saturday which he’d have a penalty in. Early signs are he’s come out of the race fine.
“There is a Group Two in France at the end of August (Grand Prix de Deauville) which I haven’t spoken to Angus about actually which could be a plan as well.
“Angus has also mentioned the Canadian International, but that is the end of October so a long way down the line.”
He went on: “He certainly stayed the trip on Saturday, Outbox had an easy lead and didn’t go a mad pace which helped us. I’ve said before I don’t think he’s ever going to be a Cup horse, though.
“The Irish Leger was discussed, but we decided not to put him in it in the end. There’s the Geoffrey Freer in the middle of August we can look at as well.
“We ran him over 10 furlongs first time out, but he didn’t get competitive that day. He is a strong traveller, though.
“I don’t get too bullish, but I would have been disappointed if he’d have got beaten on Saturday. He’s very consistent and I wish I had a few more like him.”
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Hukum claimed a second Group Three prize when triumphant in the John Smith’s Silver Cup Stakes at York.
The Shadwell-owned colt is also already a Listed winner and was last seen finishing third behind Wonderful Tonight in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Ridden by Jim Crowley and trained by Owen Burrows, the four-year-old finished a length and three-quarters ahead of Archie Watson’s Outbox.
“He’s such a consistent horse,” Burrows said of the 3-1 favourite.
“That was a big run at Ascot and the form is working out well.
“He’s a Group Three winner again, he travelled well and he did it nicely.
“This ground helps, it’s better than it was at Ascot but you can’t say he doesn’t handle it, he’s just better on nice, lovely, good ground.”
La Trinidad continued his progression to take the John Smith’s Racing Handicap at 13-2 for Rowan Scott and Roger Fell.
The gelding was victorious last month on the Knavesmire, striking in a nine-furlong handicap to earn himself a 6lb rise in the weights, but the increased burden did little to hinder him in sealing back to back York wins when he prevailed by half a length.
“I was bullish about him,” Fell said.
“La Trinidad is going the right way, I’ve always thought he was a good horse.
“We won’t over-race him and he could win a nice race.”
Goobinator gave trainer Donald McCain a first York winner when taking the John Smith’s Stayers’ Handicap under Paul Mulrennan.
The five-year-old has been campaigned on the Flat since a heavy fall under the National Hunt code at Musselburgh in January and gained a second victory on the level when taking the extended two-mile contest by three-quarters of a length at 12-1.
“He just lost his way, he had a terrible fall at Musselburgh that just wasn’t his fault,” McCain said.
“He lost his confidence completely with jumping, he was getting so high in the air, but the ability is still there.
“He won the Scottish Champion Hurdle trial up at Ayr and he looked like he was going the right way but he’s gone the wrong way because of that fall, so it’s just nice to get him back on track – we’ll look for another one now.”
Atomic Lady (9-2) backed up her first career success at Ripon last month with another win, this time taking the John Smith’s Nursery Handicap by a length and three quarters.
The filly raced alone towards the outer rail for much of the race and saw off a challenge from 7-2 joint-favourite Silken Petals to prevail.
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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.”
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Hukum will bid to double his Royal Ascot tally in the Hardwicke Stakes.
The Owen Burrows-trained four-year-old won the King George V Stakes at the summer showpiece meeting last season. He went on to follow up in the Group Three Geoffrey Freer at Newbury, before finishing fifth in the St Leger at Doncaster.
After placing fourth over 10 furlongs on his seasonal reappearance in the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown in April, Hukum successfully stepped back up to a mile and a half in last month’s Listed Tapster Stakes at Goodwood – earning himself move to Group Two level next week.
Burrows said: “He’s been in good form since Goodwood, so the plan is to run in the Hardwicke.
“Aidan (O’Brien) will have one or two, I guess – it’s always a strong race.
“I’m looking forward to getting our horse back on some decent ground, and we’ll see what he can do.”
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Commonwealth Cup contender Minzaal will miss the first part of the season after having surgery on a leg injury.
The Gimcrack Stakes winner sustained the damage in his box and is currently recuperating at his owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell Stud.
Trainer Owen Burrows is optimistic Minzaal will be back in action this season – but it could be a race against time to get him ready for his Group One objective over six furlongs at Royal Ascot.
“Unfortunately Minzaal injured himself in his box before Christmas,” said the Lambourn handler.
“He’s had to have surgery and he’s back at Shadwell at the moment recuperating.
“Whether or not he’ll make Ascot will be just determined on how he progresses now. It’s a shame.
“He must have banged a hind leg and has had a couple of chips removed off his hocks.
“Obviously the Commonwealth Cup was the plan. There’s still a small chance. God willing, we’ll have him back at some stage this year.”
Minzaal was third in the Group One Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on his final start last term.
Burrows is looking forward to Hukum’s four-year-old campaign, after the colt gave him a first Royal Ascot winner when landing the King George V Handicap on just his third start last summer.
Hukum went on to prove himself in Pattern company, winning the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury and finishing a creditable fifth in the St Leger at Doncaster on his latest outing.
“He’s back with me and looks to have done well over the winter. He’s an exciting horse for us all,” he said.
“I have plans in my head, but nothing concrete as such yet.”
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Raabihah could still take her chance in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, despite suffering defeat in the Prix Vermeille at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.
Connections of the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained filly will wait a few days and see how the daughter of Sea The Stars has taken the race before committing her to Europe’s premier all-aged middle distance contest.
Raabihah was sent off the 6-5 favourite to take her track record to four wins from five starts, but went down by three lengths to the Dermot Weld’s impressive Tarnawa after staying on to edge long-time leader Dame Malliot for second place.
“The winner looked very good. I’m not taking anything away from her. I expected to see more acceleration from our filly than we did,” said Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s racing manager, Angus Gold.
“Mr Rouget felt otherwise, so we said we’d see how she comes out of it. She needs to improve to win an Arc on what we saw on Sunday.
“That has always been the plan after the Vermeille. We’ll see at the end of the week how things are.”
Gold expects Hukum to take high order in 2021 after falling short on his first try at Group One level in the St Leger at Doncaster on Saturday.
The three-year-old colt, trained by Owen Burrows, had earned a crack at the world’s oldest Classic after winning the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
However, he could only manage fifth place behind Galileo Chrome on what was his fifth career start.
Trainer Owen Burrows and jockey Jim Crowley believed the horse did not stay the extended mile and three-quarters.
“That was the trainer’s and the jockey’s thought. I just noticed Jim niggling him three out, which surprised me,” said Gold.
“He stayed a mile and five at Newbury and ran right to the line. He was gone well before a mile and five on Saturday.
“I don’t know if it was just lack of stamina. Jim said to me they went a faster pace on Saturday than they did at Newbury.
“Owen has always said he’d got a lot of toe and a lot of pace so was not a guaranteed stayer, so maybe he didn’t. He would prefer easier ground, but I’m not with excuses. He was either not good enough or didn’t stay.”
He added: “Whether he runs again this season has yet to be decided. It’s too soon to decide. That is possibly it for the year. We’ll see how he comes out of it.
“I’m sure he’ll go back to a mile and a half next year. He’s a very inexperienced horse and has a big future ahead of him.”
Gold felt a lack of racing experience cost the Burrows-trained Albasheer when he was beaten a length by Chindit in the Champagne Stakes, also at Doncaster.
It was only his second start, while the winner had the benefit of two races.
“He ran a very good race. I thought he looked short of experience to me and was beaten by a better horse on the day who’d had a second run,” said Gold.
“Sadly, we’d only got the one run in. It looked like he needed the experience of another run.
“We were happy with him and the run.”
Albasheer could go for the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket next month, when he could face Chindit again.
“It’s the Dewhurst next, as long as he comes out of it well and goes forward,” he said.
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