A group of Hambleton Racing’s syndicate owners are dreaming of Classic success in Paris this weekend as bargain-buy Mehmento bids for glory in the French 2000 Guineas.
Bought for just £14,000 at last year’s breeze-up sales, the Archie Watson-trained colt was hugely impressive in winning his first two starts on the all-weather at Southwell, earning him a step up in class for last month’s Greenham Stakes at Newbury.
The decision to pitch the Mehmas colt in at Group Three level on his turf debut was fully vindicated as he was beaten just a neck into second by Richard Hannon’s Chindit, who has since finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Mehmento is now set to test the water Group One level in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp on Sunday.
Watson said: “Mehmento took a big step up in class in his stride and ran a huge race in the Greenham.
“I’ve been very happy with him at home since Newbury. The track at Longchamp should suit him, and it’s very exciting to have our first Classic runner.”
Mehmento has nine owners who are spread out from Scotland to West Sussex.
Simon Turner, director of racing for the Hambleton team, reports much excitement as they aim for further top-level honours following the success of Glen Shiel on Champions Day at Ascot last season.
“We were the only syndicate in Europe to win a Group One race last year and also enjoyed stakes winners in France and Ireland,” said Turner.
“We’re selling a dream when syndicating these horses, and horses like Glen Shiel and Mehmento are making that dream a reality.”
Mehmento’s potential rivals this weekend include Jim Bolger’s 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare and Aidan O’Brien’s champion two-year-old from last season St Mark’s Basilica.
Turner added: “Sunday will be a big thrill for our owners to see their horse racing in a Classic against last year’s champion two-year-old and this year’s (English) 2000 Guineas winner in France.”
Mehmento will be ridden by Adam McNamara, who is quarantining locally before the race.
There were 13 remaining contenders for the French 2000 Guineas following Wednesday’s latest forfeit stage – but among them, Michael Bell’s The Lir Jet will skip the race in favour of the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock next week.
David Redvers, racing manager for Qatar Racing who part-own The Lir Jet with RacehorseClub, said: “Having discussed with Michael Bell and the team at RacehorseClub, we have decided that the best route for The Lir Jet is to target the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot on Friday 18 June, taking in the Sandy Lane at Haydock on route.
“As a result, he will not be declared for the French 2000 Guineas this Sunday.”