Mehmento fires Classic dream for Hambleton Racing

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.

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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.”

2000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare is on course for a Classic double
2000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare is on course for a Classic double (John Walton/PA)

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.

The Lir Jet (left) winning at Royal Ascot last year
The Lir Jet (left) winning at Royal Ascot last year (Julian Finney/PA)

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.”

Mehmento in line for French Guineas bid after fine Greenham effort

A tilt at Classic glory in the French 2000 Guineas could be next on the agenda for Mehmento following his narrow defeat in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury on Sunday.

The Hambleton Racing-owned colt faced a big step up in class for the Group Three contest, having registered two wide-margin wins on the all-weather at Southwell since the turn of the year.

However, the Archie Watson-trained son of Mehmas proved he is a horse of considerable potential with an excellent effort in defeat – looking the likely winner after kicking clear under Hollie Doyle before being run down late by Richard Hannon’s hot favourite Chindit.

Cosmo Charlton, Hambleton Racing’s head racing manager, said: “The owners are absolutely flying and they were certainly flying at the furlong pole, that’s for sure!

“He broke really well and travelled great and when Hollie asked him to pick up, he put a couple of lengths between himself and the Coventry winner (Nando Parrado) in a couple of strides, which is the sign of a good horse.

“We thought we might have won it a furlong out, but we got picked up by a possible Guineas winner.

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“Hollie couldn’t have been happier with our horse. She said he’s got a willing attitude and puts his head down – he’s the perfect horse to own and train in terms of attitude.

“He was unraced a handful of weeks ago, so he’s open to further improvement.”

While Chindit is bound for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Sunday week, Mehmento is more likely to contest the French equivalent the following weekend.

“We’ve done some work on his stride pattern and that is suggesting he wants seven furlongs to a mile, so that’s where we’re looking at the moment, rather than coming back in trip,” Charlton added.

“Looking ahead, Archie is thinking of the French 2000 Guineas. He just thinks it’s a little bit of a sharper test than Newmarket and the ground might also be more suitable.

“He handled that watered ground very well, but he obviously handles the surface at Southwell well, so it if it was on the soft side of good in France it could suit him even better.

“You never say never as far as Newmarket is concerned, but I think we’re very much looking forward to the French Guineas as the nature of the race might be a bit better for him.”

Outbox is another high-class performer for Hambleton Racing
Outbox is another high-class performer for Hambleton Racing (Mike Egerton/PA)

Mehmento was one of two Hambleton-owned horses to run well at Newbury, with his stablemate Outbox finishing third behind the impressive Al Aasy in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes, better known as the John Porter.

Charlton said: “We were getting the vibes that the winner was a Group One horse, so we have no problems getting beaten by him.

“Hollie was really happy with our horse and he’s cemented himself as a proper Listed/Group Three performer.

“He’s going to go for a Listed race at Ascot in a few weeks’ time and we’ll see where we go from there, but I think he’s a horse you could travel abroad with for opportunities as well.”

Trainer Archie Watson
Trainer Archie Watson (Simon Cooper/PA)

Charlton was keen to credit Watson for purchasing both horses for relatively modest sums, adding: “Outbox cost £16,000 and Mehmento was £14,000.

“Outbox is worth a lot more than that now and Mehmento is probably worth a small fortune, I’d have thought. Happy days.

“It was great to have two Group-race runners running so well.”