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Khaadem roars back to winning ways at Doncaster

Khaadem posted a course-record time as he returned to winning form as part of a treble for William Buick and owners Shadwell Estate in the Listed Cazoo Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster.

Buick, warming up in style on day one of the Cazoo St Leger Festival for his ride on Godolphin’s big-race favourite Hurricane Lane in this weekend’s Classic showpiece, was twice the beneficiary of the injury which befell Jim Crowley at the start of the card.

While Crowley’s MRI scans were returning clear in the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield, following his fall from Jadhlaan in the opening Take The Reins Nursery Handicap Stakes, one that sadly proved fatal for the Shadwell-owned two-year-old, first Robert Havlin and then Buick won on the rides he had to miss.

Crowley will also sit out his scheduled Thursday mounts, but is then expected to return.

Buick, who had won the first race of the meeting on Godolphin’s Modern Games, switched his blue allegiance to post an emphatic victory on Khaadem and then quickly double up on Anmaat for the same owners.

Khaadem’s trainer Charlie Hills was delighted at the 2019 Stewards’ Cup hero’s first success in 11 subsequent attempts – on his favoured quick ground, wearing blinkers for just the second time and dropped to five furlongs for the first time in his career.

“He looked good, didn’t he – first time at this trip, it’s great,” said Hills.

“To control the race as he did against proper fast five-furlong horses takes some doing.

“A race like that might just give him confidence now. He’s been a long time without winning, so that will do him the world of good.”

The Lambourn trainer admits there will be some head-scratching before he works out where Khaadem may run next – with a transatlantic trip to Del Mar for the Breeders’ Cup an improbable prospect because the five-year-old had dropped almost a stone in the ratings before this triumph.

“It would be nice to think somewhere like Breeders’ Cup,” he said.

“But he’s come down a bit in the weights, obviously 104 today, and to get in a race like that you need to be in the 115s.”

Khaadem’s superiority, as the 5-4 favourite by a length and three-quarters from Live In The Moment, nonetheless left no one in any doubt that when conditions are in his favour he has a touch of class.

“He loves the fast ground,” added Hills.

“We’ve been scratching our heads with him. We tried him over seven furlongs, and we just put the blinkers on him because he’s been getting a little bit frustrating.

“When he worked in them he was like a different horse, he just took off on the gallops.”

Buick’s trickiest task was to channel that exuberance, before Khaadem took control.

Hills said: “Obviously (we were) dropping to five (furlongs), but the plan was just to try to ride him the same way we did last time, try to get a little lead.

“He’s a horse that doesn’t want disappointing, so I said to William just try to let him feel like he’s boss and nurse him in.

“But William says he’s a proper fast horse now. So we’ll have to have a look and see what there is next.

“In his first race this year, we took him to Meydan for the Group One there, and he ended up favourite for it – so he’s been up there with the best.

“It hasn’t quite worked out. But last year he had some stomach ulcers, so we were nice and easy with him really.

“It’s been two years that he hasn’t won, so it’s great to get his head in front.”

By contrast, Owen Burrows’ Anmaat was winning for the third time in five starts this season.

After the three-year-old had consigned runner-up Faisal’s unbeaten career profile to history in the I Love Julie Parkes Handicap, at 11-4 and by a length and three-quarters, Burrows must hope he can handle another ratings rise from a current 94.

Wentworth Falls and Connor Beasley won the Visit Doncaster Handicap
Wentworth Falls and Connor Beasley won the Visit Doncaster Handicap (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Lambourn trainer said: “He won nicely at Bath last time.

“I didn’t think that was probably much of a race, so I was a little concerned at the 8lb hike for it.

“But he’s handled that well, and he’s still improving.”

The closing Visit Doncaster Handicap went to Geoff Harker’s course specialist Wentworth Falls, ridden by Connor Beasley.

The evergreen nine-year-old was winning for the third time on Town Moor, on this occasion by half a length from favourite Al Simmo.

Khaadem bids to bounce back in Cathedral Stakes

Khaadem bids to get back on track in the British Stallion Studs EBF Cathedral Stakes at Salisbury.

The Charlie Hills-trained sprinter has been out of luck since the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood in August 2019, but has taken on the best at Group One level.

He was fourth in both the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and the July Cup last season.

Khaadem returned to action at Meydan in March but was below his best in the Al Quoz Sprint won by Extravagant Kid, who represents America in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

His first run back in the UK did not go to plan on heavy ground at Haydock – where he was third of four to Cape Byron, another horse with Royal Ascot aspirations in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

However, Hills is expecting a much better performance from the five-year-old on Sunday.

“It looks the right spot for him,” he said.

“It was desperate ground at Haydock. He couldn’t act on it, so we put a line through the run.”

Andrew Balding is hoping a break has done Shine So Bright good.

The grey was last of four to Pogo in a Listed contest at Leicester, and returns after a 50-day absence.

“He’s been a little bit below par the last couple of runs – but he’s had a break, and I’ve been pleased the way he’s been working,” said Balding.

“He’s a talented horse on his day, and these are his optimum conditions, so he wouldn’t be without a chance.”

The other older horse in the line-up is the four-year-old Mums Tipple, from Richard Hannon’s yard.

The other three runners are three-year-olds, headed by the Mick Channon-trained Cairn Gorm.

A Group Three scorer at Deauville in August, the Bated Breath colt tackled even stronger company and contested the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at ParisLongchamp in October.

Roger Varian’s Line Of Departure, winner of a valuable sales race at Doncaster, plus Hugo Palmer’s Chocoya, complete the sextet.