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Haggas has Alenquer and Mohaafeth on Juddmonte International duty

William Haggas is planning a twin assault on the Juddmonte International at York next week, with Mohaafeth set to be joined by stable companion Alenquer.

Mohaafeth has long been considered a likely contender for Wednesday’s 10-furlong showpiece – and while he lost his unbeaten record for the season in the York Stakes over the course and distance last month, he looks set to return to the Knavesmire.

Alenquer has not run over a mile and a quarter since inflicting a narrow defeat on subsequent Derby and King George hero Adayar at Sandown in the spring, since when he has won the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot and finished third in the Grand Prix de Paris over a mile and a half.

The Adlerflug colt is ante-post favourite for York’s Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes with some bookmakers, but Haggas is favouring a drop in distance on the same afternoon.

“I think he’s more likely to go for the Juddmonte, that’s the idea at the moment,” said the Newmarket handler.

“He’ll be coming back in trip, but you can put a line through his run in France because he never went at all. He got too far back and it was too much (ground to make up).

“We don’t really want to go down the Leger route, so we’re going to go for the shorter races.”

Of Mohaafeth, Haggas said: “I think he’ll go there as well. I haven’t talked to connections, but that’s the way we’d be thinking.”

Mohaafeth is also heading to York
Mohaafeth is also heading to York (David Davies/PA)

The hot favourite for the Juddmonte International is Aidan O’Brien’s St Mark’s Basilica, who has been imperious in winning the French 2000 Guineas, the French Derby and the Coral-Eclipse this season.

Eclipse third and King George runner-up Mishriff is another big gun in contention, and Haggas is under no illusions about the task his two candidates face.

He added: “We’ll need both hands full to take those boys on, but there you go! We’ll see what happens.”

Haggas favours Prix du Moulin target for Baaeed

The Prix du Moulin at ParisLongchamp remains the most likely next objective for the hugely exciting Baaeed.

In the space of less than two months, the son of Sea The Stars has gone from being an unraced colt to a champion elect – winning at Leicester and twice at Newmarket, before dominating his rivals in the Group Three Thoroughbred Stakes at Goodwood last week.

A step up to Group One level beckons – and with trainer William Haggas of the opinion that the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday week is likely to come too soon, the Moulin early next month is his favoured option.

Speaking on Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast, the Newmarket trainer said: “We were very pleased with him (at Goodwood) – and he proved he’s worth a shot at a better race, I think.

“There’s the Jacques le Marois, which I think is too quick, so it’s the Moulin on September 5 or the back-up is the Celebration Mile (at Goodwood on August 28), but I really want to go for a Group One race with him now.

“We have to go to France, and that’s complicated in its own way. If all goes well in Paris, then it’s the QEII (at Ascot) or nothing – if it’s bottomless at Ascot he probably won’t go.

“I’m as excited as you to have a horse of this calibre, but I much prefer for him to do the talking rather than me.

“He’s obviously a talented horse, because every time I throw him in a better race he does better.”

Haggas also provided an update on Al Aasy, who has returned to training after undergoing a gelding operation.

Al Aasy is on the comeback trail
Al Aasy is on the comeback trail (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Narrowly beaten on his last two starts in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, the four-year-old could be prepared for an international campaign.

“Apparently he’s fine. He’s actually back in today,” Haggas added.

“He’s been at Shadwell, recovering from his castration, and he’s been swimming. I feel if he can learn to swim, which apparently he’s very proficient at, then if he does go to Dubai next March they have a 100-metre swimming pool in the quarantine centre he can use.

“He would be able to swim there rather than go on the track, which is quite firm.

“Things have got to be discussed, (but) he might go with Addeybb to Sydney to run in the Tancred Stakes (in April) – he could be quite useful in that sort of race.”

Another Shadwell-owned star based at the Haggas yard is Mohaafeth.

The Frankel colt met with defeat for the first time this season in last month’s Sky Bet York Stakes, but his trainer remains keen on a return to the Knavesmire for the Juddmonte International.

He said: “It was a complete mess at York, I’m afraid – my mistake.

“The pace was too slow, and he was too far behind. My gut feeling is to put a line through it, and have a stab at the Juddmonte.”

York return ‘still an option’ for Mohaafeth

Next month’s Juddmonte International at York remains a possible option for Mohaafeth, despite his eclipse on the Knavesmire last weekend.

The three-year-old was sent off the 4-5 favourite for Saturday’s Group Two York Stakes but had to settle for a fast-finishing third, beaten half a length by the surprise winner Bangkok after sitting in last for much of the extended 10-furlong trip.

Trainer William Haggas was not too disappointed in the immediate aftermath, while connections feel on further reflection that perhaps pacemaker Montatham did not set a strong enough gallop and Mohaafeth therefore just had too much to do.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Shadwell Estate, said: “I think it’s fair to say we probably got our tactics wrong, which didn’t help him by setting too slow a pace.

“William feels this horse could easily have the speed to come back to a mile – and having said that, he has won three times at a mile and a quarter, so we can’t say he doesn’t stay.

“I think he just tried to quicken from behind off a quickening pace, if that makes sense. They sprinted, and he had plenty of ground to make up, and I think that’s why you could argue he didn’t stay – but I think it was more he had to make up his ground and he ran some pretty remarkable sectionals and just got tired.”

Mohaafeth had previously impressed in winning three times in the early part of the season, before soft ground at Epsom scuppered a Cazoo Derby run.

Having gained compensation with victory in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Frankel colt is a general 12-1 shot for the International on August 18 – and is also entered for the Celebration Mile at Goodwood, Irish Champion Stakes and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

Gold added: “We have all the options open. He’s still in the Juddmonte – had he won nicely on Saturday, that’s where we would have been heading.

“We’ll see how he comes out of it, how he is, and that’s still an option – and everything else is still to be discussed.”

Mohaafeth makes next step with York Stakes date

Mohaafeth bids to make it five wins from five starts this season in an intriguing renewal of the Sky Bet York Stakes.

The son of Frankel emerged as a leading contender for the Derby after his first three victories of the campaign, but was taken out of the premier Classic at Epsom on the day of the race because of unsuitable ground.

Trainer William Haggas instead sent his exciting colt to Royal Ascot, where he ran out an impressive winner of the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes.

Mohaafeth will be a hot favourite to successfully graduate to Group Two level on the Knavesmire this weekend – but with fellow Royal Ascot winner Juan Elcano and high-class Irish raider Armory among the opposition, his task is far from straightforward.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate, said: “I’m very much looking forward to seeing Mohaafeth run. It’s the next step up. We’ve waited for this race particularly, and William and his team have been very happy with him. Let’s see if he can take the next step and go from there.

“He’s an exciting horse and one to look forward to, and obviously he’s done everything right this year. It will be very interesting to see him on Saturday. Hopefully there will be no excuses, and we can see how we get on.”

The Shadwell colours will also be carried in the five-strong field by stablemate Montatham, of whom Gold added: “William wants to make sure there’s a bit of pace. We don’t want a falsely-run race.

“He’ll be there or thereabouts. He’s a lovely horse and a real star for us, so hopefully he can run a good race.”

Armory represents trainer Aidan O'Brien in the Sky Bet York Stakes on the Knavesmire
Armory represents trainer Aidan O’Brien in the Sky Bet York Stakes on the Knavesmire (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

While Mohaafeth is stepping up in class, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Armory is dropping down in grade – having finished a close-up third behind esteemed stablemate Love in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on his latest outing.

Armory is 7lb clear of Mohaafeth on official ratings, but does have to concede 12lb to his younger rival.

“We thought this looked a nice race for Armory,” said O’Brien.

“It’s 10 furlongs on hopefully good ground, and that is what he wants. Hopefully he’ll run well.”

Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano bids to follow up victory in the Wolferton Stakes, with Andrew Balding’s Bangkok completing the field.

Royal Ascot winners set for York Stakes showdown

Royal Ascot winners Mohaafeth and Juan Elcano could face Irish challenger Armory in an intriguing renewal of the Sky Bet York Stakes.

Following his late withdrawal from the Cazoo Derby at Epsom in early June, the William Haggas-trained Mohaafeth made it four from four for the season in the Hampton Court Stakes at last month’s showpiece meeting.

Kevin Ryan’s Juan Elcano, meanwhile, bounced back from a disappointing run of results with victory in the Wolferton Stakes under Andrea Atzeni, who believes he will have plenty in his favour on the Knavesmire this weekend.

He said: “He won nicely at Ascot on fast ground, which hopefully he’ll get on Saturday – that is what he wants.

“I think an easy mile and a quarter at York will suit him perfectly. Obviously our fellow has got to improve again, but I’m sure he will have done and it was great to get his head in front the last day.

“He’s a horse we always thought a lot of. Like I said, he needs to take another step forward, but if he does he should be very competitive.”

Armory winning the Huxley Stakes at Chester
Armory winning the Huxley Stakes at Chester (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The highest-rated horse in the field is Armory, who could bid to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a first York Stakes success after finishing a close-up third behind his esteemed stablemate Love in last month’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes.

Haggas has also entered talented miler Montatham, who could test the water over 10 furlongs for the first time in Saturday’s Group Two feature.

Andrew Balding’s Bangkok and Ebury from Scott Dixon’s yard are the other hopefuls.

Ascot victor Mohaafeth handed York Stakes mission

The Sky Bet York Stakes is next on the agenda for Royal Ascot hero Mohaafeth.

The son of Frankel emerged as a leading contender for the Derby after winning his first three starts of the season, but was taken out of the premier Classic at Epsom on the day of the race due to unsuitable ground.

William Haggas instead sent his exciting colt to the Royal meeting where he ran out an impressive winner of the Hampton Court Stakes – and he is now set to step up to Group Two level on the Knavesmire.

With jockey Jim Crowley likely to be at Ascot to ride stablemate Al Aasy in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes on the same afternoon, Dane O’Neill is poised to take over in the saddle aboard Mohaafeth at York.

Haggas told Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday: “We knocked the Eclipse on the head last weekend and he’s going to go for the Sky Bet race at York on July 24, which is unfortunate for Jim, but good for Dane, because that’s the same day as the King George.

“The horse that won the King Edward (Alenquer) is hopefully going for the Grand Prix de Paris on July 14, so we’ve got a busy few weeks coming up.”

Al Aasy in action at Newbury
Al Aasy in action at Newbury (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Al Aasy has the option of warming up for the King George in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket next week, but appears unlikely to take up the engagement.

“The King George is very much the plan. Whether he goes for the Princess of Wales’s Stakes, I’m not sure – I doubt it. He’ll probably go straight for the King George,” Haggas added.

“He worked beautifully again yesterday and is on target to go where we want him. We just have to decide whether going to Newmarket might take the edge off him for Ascot, which wouldn’t be sensible.

“My gut feeling is he’ll probably go straight to Ascot.”

Al Aasy booked for King George date at Ascot

William Haggas is beginning to plan both Al Aasy and Mohaafeth’s Group One assignments next month following their contrasting fortunes at Epsom and Royal Ascot respectively.

Haggas reports the two Shadwell Estate colts have recovered well from their exertions, with Sandown’s Coral-Eclipse still in the mix for Mohaafeth and Al Aasy on course for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Al Aasy was last seen at Epsom, in the Coronation Cup, but failed by a neck to justify favouritism in search of his first Group One success after starting his campaign with two impressive Newbury victories at Group Three level.

He is set to try again at Ascot on July 24 – and while Mohaafeth also has a King George entry, he is likely to stick to 10 furlongs when he tries Group One company for the first time, potentially at Sandown on July 3.

It was a surprise to many that Al Aasy narrowly failed to cope with Pyledriver at Epsom, but Haggas confirmed the plan remains to head to Ascot in a month’s time – when he may well face the same opponent again, along with several more of the best middle-distance horses in training.

“I was a bit disappointed he didn’t win,” he said.

“But we all get disappointed if we don’t win. But he’s fine, and he’s going to go for the King George.

“There’ll be plenty of opposition in that.”

Mohaafeth in winning action at Royal Ascot
Mohaafeth in winning action at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

The Newmarket trainer made a difficult call to miss the Derby with much-improved Mohaafeth when rain arrived and the ground went against him at Epsom – a decision which was vindicated by a commanding success for the son of Frankel on a sound surface in last week’s Hampton Court Stakes.

As for Mohaafeth’s Eclipse date, the Newmarket trainer added: “We hope so. It’s not set in stone – we’ll see how he is (nearer the time).

“He had a hard race at Ascot, so we’ll see.

“They both seem absolutely fine, they’re good.”

Mohaafeth prevails in dramatic Hampton Court

Mohaafeth continued his rapid progression up the ranks when winning a dramatic running of the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.

William Haggas’ charge was among the favourites for the Cazoo Derby earlier this month, but heavy rain on the Friday turned the ground softer than the trainer felt his charge wanted.

Having agonised over the decision to run, Haggas took him out just over an hour before the race and immediately nominated this contest as his alternative target – and from the point of view of connections the late switch was justified.

It turned into a messy contest, however, with Matchless, Movin Time and Snapraeterea all racing keenly in the early stages and Jim Crowley content to let them get on with it on Mohaafeth (11-8 favourite).

Haggas would have been delighted the forecast heavy rain overnight failed to materialise and Crowley moved his mount wide to challenge in the straight.

Unfortunately Mohaafeth then began to hang right handed towards the rail – while also quickening clear with Roman Empire – and although going clear of his only rival, the Frankel colt ended up drifting to his right and Ryan Moore had to stop riding briefly on Roman Empire.

The stewards inevitably had a look, leading to a tense wait for connections of Mohaafeth before he was confirmed the winner by a length and three-quarters.

Mohaafeth was clear at the line
Mohaafeth was clear at the line (David Davies/PA)

Haggas was delighted with the result, but was not getting too carried away.

He said: “He’s only up to Group Three from Listed, but he’s a pretty good horse.

“I think it probably didn’t go his way today. Jim was concerned about the horse of Roger Varian’s (Movin Time) who was up the front and he was quite far behind and he said, by his own admission, he’d gone a bit early, but the horse kept going, that’s the main thing.

“He did run across the track a bit, but he’s probably used up a lot of petrol getting there.”

Mohaafeth was immediately halved in price to 8-1 by Coral for next month’s Eclipse, but Haggas was in no rush to map out plans.

“I think if he’s going to go one way, he’ll go shorter not longer. I was always concerned about the trip in the Derby, but there is only one of them and then when it rained it became, for me, an easier decision not to run him. That’s history now, let’s move on.

“He’s won a Listed and a Group Three, he’s not tackled an older horse yet so he’s got a lot to prove, but I think he’s got some talent.

“I think he’s pretty good. I don’t make comparisons with others, but he’s a useful horse. He’s always been a nice horse and he’s bred to be a good horse. I thought he looked great today and he doesn’t look a stayer physically.

“He’s in the Eclipse, he’s in lots of things and will continue to be in lots of things and we’ll see where we go. That’s obviously the first target, if there is one, but it can’t be good to soft, soft or anything like that – he’s a quick ground horse.”

Haggas has grounds for concern ahead of Mohaafeth’s Ascot assignment

Late Derby absentee Mohaafeth gets the chance to strut his stuff in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

William Haggas agonised over whether to run his exciting colt in the Classic following heavy rain the day before.

He decided to keep his powder dry and aim for Ascot instead – yet with thunder storms forecast, the Newmarket handler fears his chance may be compromised again.

However, there appears no question of him not running following a promise to Sheikha Hissa, daughter of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, who founded the Shadwell Estate Company.

“He obviously doesn’t want much rain but he’ll run, I promised Sheikha Hissa he’d run at Ascot regardless,” said Haggas.

“It’s just the way it is, it’s typical.

“Everything has been good with him, he’s in great form and he really is a lovely horse, we just won’t see him at his best on soft ground – but that’s the way it is.

“He’ll still run a good race, he’s very well.”

Charlie Appleby’s One Ruler did run in the Derby won by his stablemate Adayar and finished sixth, just as he had in the 2000 Guineas. Appleby also runs Secret Protector.

Aidan O’Brien is represented by Roman Empire, who was fourth in the Dante when ridden by Hollie Doyle, and Matchless.

The weather apart, it promises to be a good day for Haggas, with Second Wind in the Norfolk Stakes and Aldaary in the Buckingham Palace carrying high hopes.

Unbeaten in two starts to date, with his latest run at Salisbury boosted by the runner-up since, Second Wind would like the rain to come, as he prepares to go up against the Wesley Ward-trained pair of Lucci and Nakatomi.

Haggas said: “I think he’ll enjoy some dig in the ground and that might not help Wesley’s horses, so I was quite keen to have a go. There was some cut in the ground when he won at Salisbury, I think he enjoys that.”

Aldaary was last seen finishing third at Goodwood, and Haggas has listened to jockey Jim Crowley in going for the Buckingham Palace.

The Newmarket handler said: “He’s an interesting one. He’s a nice horse. He was too far back last time out behind Rhoscolyn.

“It was very much Jim Crowley’s idea to come for this, I hadn’t given it a minute’s thought. I didn’t want to go for the Britannia because he’d have had nearly top-weight. Jim said had I considered the Buckingham Palace, I hadn’t, but I did and I thought it was perfect.”

Returning to the Norfolk, the aforementioned Ward seems to favour the John Velazquez-ridden Lucci over his stablemate, although the latter recorded a strong speed figure when beating stablemate Happy Soul on his one run to date.

The merit of that effort was seen subsequently when Happy Soul absolutely bolted up at Belmont Park. Qatar Racing bought into Nakatomi after his win, and as a result Oisin Murphy takes the ride.

Ward said: “At home, we have been working Lucci and Nakatomi together. Nakatomi was coming out on top, but then they had a workout in Newmarket on the Limekilns and Lucci turned the tables. He just bounced straight through to the front and would not give up the lead.”

There are plenty of others to watch, too, in what looks a strong renewal of the Norfolk, among them O’Brien’s once-raced Cadamosto and the Clive Cox-trained Instinctive Move, the mount of Derby-winning rider Adam Kirby.

George Scott is another trainer looking forward to chances on day three, chief among them George Peabody in the Britannia.

Progressive with two wins in novice company this year, the Holy Roman Emperor gelding is making his handicap bow – in what has been a long-range plan.

George Peabody has been aimed at the Britannia Handicap for some time
George Peabody has been aimed at the Britannia Handicap for some time (Mike Egerton/PA)

Scott said: “We’ve been aiming at this race a very long time. He was impressive at Doncaster and then followed up under a penalty at Thirsk. He’s a cool horse to train, very relaxed and straightforward.

“Obviously we need an enormous amount of luck, but I couldn’t be more pleased with him.”

Stablemate Too Friendly runs in the same colours of Bill and Tim Gredley, as he goes in the King Edward V Stakes.

The Camelot colt won well at Doncaster in March, leading to a crack at the Blue Riband Trial at Epsom, finishing sixth to Wirko.

Scott said: “I’ve been really pleased with his preparation. In hindsight I think Epsom came a little quick for him after winning at Doncaster, so we deliberately put him away and waited for Ascot.

“He’s wearing first-time cheekpieces and they seemed to have had an effect at home.”

Among the King George opposition is the O’Brien-trained Sir Lamorak, a winner at Dundalk in March and impressive after that in a Leopardstown handicap.

A minor setback ruled Noon Star out of the Oaks
A minor setback ruled Noon Star out of the Oaks (Tim Goode/PA)

Ryan Moore rides and told Betfair: “He doesn’t want much rain, but I think he has a big run in him if the ground remains decent. He may be 15lb higher than when winning for me at Leopardstown back in April, but you had to be very impressed by what he did that day, and I think he is a good colt. And hopefully one better than his current mark of 100.”

An intriguing renewal of the Ribblesdale Stakes has attracted Sir Michael Stoute’s impeccably-bred Noon Star – a late defector from the Oaks but whose three-and-three-quarter-length second to Snowfall in the Musidora does not now have the slightly disappointing look to it that it possibly had at the time.

She gets has the opportunity to show what might have been at Epsom as she clashes with O’Brien’s Oaks third Divinely, while Mark Johnston’s Dubai Fountain also runs after being well-beaten in the Classic, for which she attracted a raft of support in the market beforehand.

Hampton Court date for Mohaafeth

Mohaafeth is likely to contest the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot next week following his late withdrawal from the Cazoo Derby.

The Frankel colt was considered a leading contender for the premier Classic, having made it three from three this season with a hugely impressive display in the Listed Newmarket Stakes on Guineas weekend.

However, with rainfall throughout Friday ensuring the ground was on the soft side, trainer William Haggas made the difficult to decision to pull him out of the Derby and instead wait for the Royal meeting.

Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate Company Ltd, said: “William has always been quoted as saying this horse wants fast ground.

“We all walked the track and we thought it was probably fine to run, but William made the point that it wasn’t his ground and his feeling was that he wasn’t going to win it in that ground.

“If you did run you’d risk messing up Ascot, it’s the middle of the season and we need to know where we’re going with this horse.

“If he’d run seventh or eighth and had a hard race and hadn’t recovered in time for Ascot, we’re getting to July without knowing what sort of horse we’ve got to go to war with, so to speak.

“William just felt it wasn’t the right thing to do to run him.”

Mohaafeth is entered in the King Edward VII Stakes on Friday week, but is set to run instead over a mile and a quarter at Group Three level the previous afternoon.

Gold said: “It’s most likely he’ll run in the mile-and-a-quarter race, I would think. There is quite a body of opinion around the horse that thinks he might end up a mile-and-a-quarter horse.

“We weren’t sure about the mile and a half going into the Derby. I’ve noticed his breeder has been quoted twice now, saying she doesn’t think he’d stay – and he has got a lot of speed, this horse.

“Maybe it will turn out a mile and a quarter is his best trip – time will tell.”

Derby absentee Mohaafeth to head to Royal Ascot

Mohaafeth will head to Royal Ascot after being taken out of the Cazoo Derby due to ground conditions at Epsom.

William Haggas had made no secret of the fact he thinks the Shadwell-owned colt is not at his best on rain-softened ground, and following the significant downfall at Epsom on Friday, the going was officially described as good to soft for the premier Classic.

Haggas subsequently believed it best to sidestep the race with Mohaafeth, who is unbeaten in three starts so far this term, and instead point towards the Royal meeting with the Frankel colt.

He told ITV Racing: “After lots of soul searching and discussion – and my god, we’ve had some – we have decided to scratch and go to Ascot.

“It was a decision that was left essentially, by Sheikha Hissa (of Shadwell), to me, and I have never felt the horse is comfortable on soft, dead ground. It’s not soft, but it is dead and I don’t really want to run in a race I don’t think I can win.

“I’m very grateful for the support. I’m sure it’s right, but we’ll never know if it’s right or wrong. We all want to win the Derby, every owner, jockey and trainer wants to win the Derby, but we want to have a fighting chance.

“This is a young horse with a lot of potential and he’s got a lot more to offer, so I think it will be a bump in the road running him. So yes, it’s sad, but in a way I’m relieved.”

Battaash doing everything right in build-up to King’s Stand defence

Battaash continues to please as he works towards defending his King’s Stand Stakes crown at Royal Ascot following an injury he sustained over the winter.

The seven-year-old returned to Charlie Hills’ stables in Lambourn in April from his owners Shadwell Stud after recovering from a small fracture.

All has gone well and the five-furlong Group One on June 15 remains the target.

“His trainer will tell you he’s definitely on course for Ascot. It’s been well documented he was late going back in due to his problems during the winter,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate Company.

“He’s a seven-year-old so our job is to make sure he’s OK. He’s done a couple of bits of work now with Dane O’Neill on and Dane is very happy with him. He worked really well on Wednesday and Dane felt like he was still enjoying it.

“We’ve got just under three weeks left before Ascot. At the moment we’re on track. Whether he’ll be sharp enough to go there first time, only the next two weeks will tell us. We’ve a sporting chance at the moment.”

Gold welcomes the prospect of dry conditions for Mohaafeth ahead of the Cazoo Derby at Epsom on Saturday week.

Drier ground at Epsom would be preferable for  Mohaafeth in the Cazoo Derby
Drier ground at Epsom would be preferable for Mohaafeth in the Cazoo Derby (David Davies/Jockey Club)

After one of the wettest Mays on record, the weather is set to settle down and quicken up the going.

Faster ground would greatly improve the William Haggas-trained colt’s chances in the premier Classic, on the back of his impressive victory in the Listed Newmarket Stakes on good to firm at headquarters four weeks ago.

“For the ground to dry out would be a help. That would make a difference to this horse with his action,” said Gold.

“All his best form seems to be with top of the ground. Hopefully, we’ll get a dry spell.

“He’s in great form. They are all happy with him. I saw him yesterday (Wednesday) and he’s in great shape.”

Mohaafeth is around a 7-1 shot for the Derby.

Shadwell and Haggas are responsible for short-priced favourite Al Aasy in the Cazoo Coronation Cup on Friday week.

Al Aasy is favourite for the Coronation Cup after this easy win at Newbury
Al Aasy is favourite for the Coronation Cup after this easy win at Newbury (John Walton/PA)

The four-year-old has won two Group Threes at Newbury this spring in impressive fashion to earn his chance at Group One level.

Gold feels Al Aasy may have been flattered by his latest success in the Al Rayyan Stakes, but is not questioning his right to go to Epsom.

“To be absolutely honest, I think one could be a little bit lulled into that Newbury performance. Those around him were under pressure a long way out, but I loved the way he travelled,” he said.

“His confidence is sky high now and he’s a very worthy contender.”

Haggas ‘up for it big time’ if ground comes right for Mohaafeth

William Haggas put the finishing touches to his Cazoo Derby hope Mohaafeth on the Rowley Mile on Wednesday – with confidence seemingly growing he can add a second victory in the premier Classic.

It is 25 years since a relatively-unheralded Haggas won the blue riband event with the unconsidered Shaamit – and despite winning many big races around the world since, there has never been another Derby.

That is something the Newmarket handler is keen to rectify next week, and he believes the Frankel colt – who has improved in leaps and bounds in three outings this season – gives him a fine chance of doing so.

Smart stable companions Ilaraab and Faylaq were utilised in the racecourse gallop, along with Tom Marquand and Cieren Fallon, as Jim Crowley put his Epsom mount through his paces.

Mohaafeth had another trip to Newmarket on Wednesday having won there twice easily this season
Mohaafeth had another trip to Newmarket on Wednesday, having won there twice easily this season (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Haggas said: “He’s very good, Jim came and rode him, and he worked with two very smart older horses and went very nicely.

“The ground was too soft really, and I’ve been quoted several times as saying he’s a top-of-the ground horse – and I stick by that. It was surprisingly soft on the Rowley Mile, but he travelled very comfortably with Ilaraab and Faylaq.

“It was a hard piece of work, and now we hopefully can have an easy time as we lead into next Saturday.

“I wasn’t trying to find out if he was going to win the Derby. But I wanted it like a racecourse gallop should be, so he walked around the paddock to make it different from a normal gallop.

“I gave him a hard task today. Faylaq is rated 105 – which is probably too high – Cieren Fallon rode him, and Tom Marquand rode Ilaraab. So if you take weight-for-age in, he was probably asked a lot, but I wanted the other two to get going three furlongs out so he had a stretch. It just means he can have an easy week next week.

“I reiterated to Tom and Cieren, it wasn’t a race, it was a gallop to get the best out of Mohaafeth.”

Several other Derby and Oaks contenders went to Epsom on Monday for a workout – and having seen the conditions, Haggas is hoping for a few dry days next week.

He added: “The ground was bordering on heavy at Epsom on Monday. But it dries pretty quickly there, so if we can get some warmer weather Andrew (Cooper, clerk of the course) won’t even have to touch his watering can.

“If it’s soft I would be very keen not to run and wait until Ascot, but if it’s good or faster we’re up for it big time.”

While Haggas admits there may be some in the race with plenty of improvement to come, he is hoping experience is on Mohaafeth’s side.

“The horses who seem to do well in the Derby are ones like Ed Dunlop’s horse (John Leeper) who is clearly going to do better over further – he’s pretty good over a mile and a quarter, but he’s going to be even better over further,” he said.

“He’s got other issues that we don’t have in that ours is a ‘now’ horse -he knows what to do, whereas Ed’s, who I’m just using as an example, it might come a race too soon.

“It’s an open Derby and an exciting one, but it doesn’t appear to be clearly dominated at this stage by Aidan (O’Brien) – there’s Mr (Jim) Bolger and a few of us English souls who can put up a horse who could be a contender.”

Mohaafeth came home alone in the Newmarket Stakes
Mohaafeth came home alone in the Newmarket Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

The fact the Derby is still so revered around the world is because of its uniqueness – the twists and turns going uphill and downhill – and Haggas concedes that until a horse has been to Epsom once there is always a nagging doubt.

However, he takes heart from something his father-in-law Lester Piggott once told him.

Haggas said: “Of course the track is a worry – and you don’t know until it happens – but I think he’s got a bit of speed, and Lester always used to say you need speed from the top of the gate to get in a position that allows you to amble around the corner, so that will help him.

“Hopefully he gets a middle draw, so Jim can get a good position.

“The requirements haven’t changed – it’s still a big test. The staff are a little bit more edgy – you try to appear cool. Ed is a classic case as he walks round very calm, but he’s like a duck – underneath his legs will be going like the clappers, like all of us. He’ll be tense, because it’s our biggest race.

“We’re lucky to have contenders in the biggest races, but there ain’t one like the Derby.”

Mohaafeth runs in the famous blue and while silks of Shadwell Stud, whose founder Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum died earlier this year.

“It goes without saying how emotional it would be, given what has happened this year. Sheikh Hamdan would be thrilled, said Haggas.

“It would be the best thing, but you can only dream.

“There are plenty of dangers. I thought at the time the Sandown trial we won (with Alenquer) was very strong, but it turns out it wasn’t a very good race – although Lone Eagle did win the other day.

“I suppose Bolshoi Ballet was impressive, Mac Swiney has won a Guineas – he’s got to stay, but the trainer says he will. We’ll have all on, beating the Irish. The one I think ultimately will be the best one will be High Definition.

“I’m sure he’ll run, because Ryan (Moore) looked after him at York, and he’s virtually certain to be better over a mile and a half.

“But he’s got the track to contend with – and if he’s slow into his stride and the Piggott theory about needing a good position … well, it will be hard for him.

“I thought Roger’s (Varian) horse (Third Realm) was impressive at Lingfield. He’s nuggety and bound to run in the first four, I would think. But he’s a stayer, and they’ll be attacking a long way from home.

“I’m hoping Mohaafeth goes through a lot of the race on the bridle, and then the last bit we won’t know.

“I think probably Bolshoi Ballet will win, because he’s got a lot in his favour, providing he stays, but most Galileos stay really well.”

Mohaafeth ready to do battle in Derby

William Haggas is confident his fast-improving colt Mohaafeth will be “up for a fight” in next month’s Cazoo Derby.

Shadwell Estate’s son of Frankel shot to prominence in the ante-post market for the Epsom Classic on June 5 when he completed his hat-trick with a highly-impressive victory in the Listed Newmarket Stakes at the start of this month.

Haggas reports Mohaafeth has been in fine form since that second of back-to-back 10-furlong wins at HQ.

His next foray away from the Newmarket trainer’s yard may well be for a racecourse gallop en route to Epsom – rather than taking up the opportunity of acquainting himself with the course by exercising there in the week before the Derby.

Haggas said: “He’s great. We won’t take him to Breakfast with the Stars, but we might take him away to a racecourse.

“We don’t really need to go, but he just needs a couple of good bits of work on the grass.

“But we are getting rain at home, so we’re able to work them on the grass  -which makes a big difference.”

Haggas sees Aidan O’Brien’s emphatic Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial Stakes winner Bolshoi Ballet as the biggest threat to all at Epsom.

“I thought Aidan’s horse in Ireland was the best – that will be the one that will take the beating, I think,” he said.

“But if you’re not in, you can’t win – and if he gets there he’ll have a chance. Our horse is doing really well, but his form is not there yet.

“He beat very little at Newmarket, but he was very impressive. We’ll find out there if he can get to the next level.”

After his five career starts and on his steep upward curve, Mohaafeth will not lack for experience – or, Haggas stresses, determination.

“He’s hard, this horse, he’s not flimsy at all,” he added.

“He’s hard mentally and physically – and he’ll be up for a fight.”

Victory next month in the famous blue-and-white colours would, of course, be poignant after the death in March at the age of 75 of Shadwell’s founder Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum.

Haggas said: “I was thinking the other day how sad it is, because Sheikh Hamdan would ring a lot when he had some good horses – and he would be really enjoying this year as we’ve some nice horses for him.

“It’s a real shame and is very sad.”

Impressive Newmarket winner Mohaafeth set for Derby

Mohaafeth is set to take his chance in the Cazoo Derby after bursting into the big-race picture with an impressive victory at Newmarket.

The Frankel colt out of a Sea The Stars mare, French Dressing, trounced Secret Protector in a Listed contest on Guineas weekend to win for the third time this season.

Mohaafeth was slashed to joint second-favourite at 7-1 with some bookmakers – and connections of the William Haggas-trained colt are keen to run him at Epsom.

“He won well, obviously. I think as long as William is happy with the horse and he’s going the right way and Sheikh Hamdan’s family want to run him in the Derby, that is where we will go next,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell Estate.

“We’ll see what happens in the next 10 days with all the trials. That is going to be informative.

“He’s earned the right to run.”

Mutasaabeq could step back down to seven furlongs, possibly for the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, after his run in the 2000 Guineas.

The Charlie Hills-trained colt finished seventh behind Poetic Flare, but may have lacked the experience for such a tough test on only this third start.

“At this stage I’d have thought the obvious race is the Jersey, but let’s see how he is in two weeks’ time when we start back with him,” said Gold.

“The important thing is he’s a good horse and we’ve go to make him into a proper horse and into a stallion.

“He needs to get some Group form under his belt.

“We know he’s a promising horse and I’m sure he will get better as the year goes on. We always knew it was asking a lot going to the Guineas on only his third outing.

“We saw at the weekend it’s hard to win a Guineas off so few runs.”

Al Zaraqaan (blue and white colours) is to drop back in trip after being beaten in the Jockey Club Stakes
Al Zaraqaan (blue and white colours) is to drop back in trip after being beaten in the Jockey Club Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Dropping back in distance is on the cards for Al Zaraqaan after he finished fourth in the Jockey Club Stakes.

“Jim’s (Crowley) first reaction was he didn’t stay, having thought last year he would definitely stay,” said Gold.

“I did when he was winning at Kempton on the all-weather and this year when he beat Almigwhar on the all-weather. Jim felt he came there sweetly and didn’t go anywhere.

“We’ll bring him back to mile and a quarter. He has plenty of speed on the dam’s side of the family. We thought Golden Horn might put his stamina in, but he didn’t get home on Saturday and Jim felt he’d prefer slightly easier ground.

“We’ll see if that is the case, but we will coming back in trip with him.”