Posts

All systems go for Battaash and Goodwood

Charlie Hills is pleased with the way Battaash has recovered from his King’s Stand Stakes exertions.

While the seven-year-old lost his crown to Oxted, Hills felt he had valid excuses for the Royal Ascot reverse.

A red-hot early pace and it being Battaash’s first run of the campaign contributed to him becoming “leg-weary” in the closing stages, felt Hills, who is following his usual campaign to Goodwood next – where he will bid for a remarkable fifth successive King George Qatar Stakes success.

“He’s come out of the race really well actually, he’s been cantering away this week and we’re really pleased with him,” said Hills.

“They went really fast and with it being first time out it just caught him out.

“It’s a stiff five furlongs at Ascot, it has never really played to his strengths and he just got tired and a bit leg-weary in the last half furlong.

“He’s also there to be shot out when it transpires like that.

“We’ll go to Goodwood now, his races are pretty obvious.”

Mutasaabeq disappointed in the Jersey Stakes
Mutasaabeq disappointed in the Jersey Stakes (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Hills also held high hopes for Mutasaabeq in the Jersey Stakes, but he ran way below expectations and only beat two home.

“I don’t think the testing ground helped him, but he was beaten a long way out,” said Hills.

“I was disappointed with the run and we’ll get him fully checked over this week.

“Given his form he should have been in the mix so he’s run below par. We’ll do all the tests we can.”

Battaash on track to defend King’s Stand crown

Battaash is on course to defend his King’s Stand Stakes crown at Royal Ascot after showing his well-being following an injury setback sustained over the winter.

The seven-year-old returned to Charlie Hills’ stables in Lambourn last month from his owners Shadwell Stud, having recovered from a small fracture.

Hills has been pleased with Battaash and is looking forward to seeing what Shadwell’s number two jockey Dane O’Neill says after he rides the horse in work on Wednesday.

“Battaash has been back with us a few weeks now. He’s been in training and did a nice swinging canter last week. We’re very happy with him,” said Hills on Tuesday.

“He should get to Ascot. I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t.

“Dane O’Neill is coming to sit on him tomorrow morning. He knows him very well so it will be interesting to see what he says.”

Battaash powers to victory under Jim Crowley at Royal Ascot
Battaash powers to victory under Jim Crowley at Royal Ascot (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Royal Ascot also looks the destination for Mutasaabeq after he lost his unbeaten record in the 2000 Guineas.

The Invincible Spirit colt is set to drop back to seven furlongs for the Group Three Jersey Stakes.

Mutasaabeq had won both his starts over that trip in highly-promising fashion to warrant a run in the Newmarket Classic, for which he was sent off joint third-favourite at 6-1.

However, he could not justify that support and finished seventh behind Poetic Flare.

Mutasaabeq remains a horse of real potential
Mutasaabeq remains a horse of real potential (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He’s absolutely fine. He came out of the race in good form. He’s looking well and training nicely,” said Hills.

“I’ll speak to (racing mangers) Angus (Gold) and Richard (Hills) to draw up a plan, but I’d say the Jersey looks favourite.”

Mutasaabeq also holds an entry in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile at the Royal meeting.

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.”

Mutasaabeq set to be added to 2000 Guineas field

Mutasaabeq is set to be supplemented for the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday.

The son of Invincible Spirit, trained by Charlie Hills, is out of Ghanaati, who carried the colours of the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum to victory in the 1000 Guineas in 2009.

Mutasaabeq, who is now owned by Sheikh Hamdan’s family under the Shadwell Racing banner, has won both his starts over seven furlongs at Newmarket, with his latest victory coming earlier this month.

“As long as all is well with the horse tomorrow morning, we will supplement him,” said Angus Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager.

“We’ve been thinking about it. We didn’t put him in at the first stage because we thought it might come a bit quick for him.

“Mentally he was always a fizzy horse, but the team did a great job to keep a lid on him. Then he won first time out at Newmarket late in the season.

“Obviously he was impressive when he won there the other day. It’s impossible to say what he beat, but the way he did it was visually impressive and he ran right to the top of the hill and Jim (Crowley) said he would have no problems going a mile.

“I saw the horse a few days later and he seems to have take that race particularly well. He seems very relaxed at home.

“Dane O’Neill rode him a little half-speed (gallop) yesterday and said he felt in great form. I spoke to Sheikh Hamdan’s family to discuss the options and they said they would like to supplement him.”

Alkumait campaign on hold due to knee injury

Alkumait will not return to action until the autumn at the earliest after suffering an injury on his seasonal bow at Newbury on Sunday.

Last season’s Mill Reef winner returned to the Berkshire circuit in a bid to provide trainer Marcus Tregoning with a second successive victory in the Greenham Stakes, following the victory of the brilliant Mohaather when the race was last run in 2019.

Angus Gold, racing manager for Shadwell Estate Company, admitted beforehand he had doubts about whether Alkumait would stay the seven-furlong trip of the Greenham – and expects him to return to sprint distances in due course after finishing seventh.

However, when that will be remains uncertain after Alkumait was found to have chipped a knee.

Gold said: “Sadly he’s come out of it with a little chip on a knee, which we’re going to have to take out.

“Apart from anything else, I think the run confirmed he doesn’t stay, even if a chip on a knee was hardly going to help him.

“I think he’s going to be a sprinter, but he’ll miss the whole of the summer and we’ll try to get him back in the autumn.”

Alkumait was one of two Greenham runners for Shadwell along with the Charlie Hills-trained Mujbar.

Connections had hoped the Group Three winner could earn himself a shot at the Qipco 2000 Guineas with a bold showing, but he could now be bound for the French equivalent after finishing only eighth.

“All his best form last year was definitely with give in the ground and I think we learned the other day he would prefer it easier. He was also far too keen, anyway,” Gold added.

“Hopefully we’ve got that out of him now on his first run back and we might look at the French Guineas or something like that.

Mutasaabeq is a potential Guineas contender
Mutasaabeq is a potential Guineas contender (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“We’ll see how he does between now and then, but he won’t be going to Newmarket for the Guineas.”

While Mujbar will not be contesting the first Classic of the season on Saturday week, the Shadwell team are still considering whether to supplement his stablemate Mutasaabeq, who was seriously impressive in a conditions race at Newmarket’s Craven meeting.

Gold said: “No decision has been made yet. We’ll wait to hear from Sheikh Hamdan’s family whether they would like to supplement him for the Guineas or head towards (Royal) Ascot and go the more gentle route.”

Mutasaabeq advertises Classic potential with Newmarket strike

Mutasaabeq emerged as a potential Classic contender after making an impressive start to his campaign at Newmarket.

A winner at the track on his sole juvenile start in October, the Charlie Hills-trained colt was a 7-2 chance on his return to the Rowley Mile for the bet365 British EBF Conditions Stakes.

Ridden by Jim Crowley, the son of Invincible Spirit – owned and bred by the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum – was sent straight to the lead and it was impossible not to be impressed by the way he extended six lengths clear at the line.

Hills said: “The way the track is and with the wind behind them, it is a bit of an advantage being in front. He has won on heavy ground, but he loved the ground today.

“We are always learning, but I think he is a very talented horse.”

Mutasaabeq is out of the top-class racemare Ghanaati, who won the 1000 Guineas in 2009 for the same connections.

Hills decided against entering Mutasaabeq for the 2000 Guineas on May 1, but did not rule out the possibility of supplementing the colt, with Betfair giving him a quote of 12-1.

Hills added: “We’ll discuss it with the management and discuss what’s best for the horse.

“We didn’t put him in the 2000 Guineas and we spoke about it at length as we were a little bit concerned temperament-wise, so we wanted to go down the soft route.

“We can have a discussion now about putting him in a race like that, but there are plenty of good races after – we could run him in a Listed race here and then go on to Royal Ascot, maybe.

“We are mindful it is a long season and there are plenty of good races we can aim for.”

Carolus Magnus stretches clear of his Newmarket rivals
Carolus Magnus stretches clear of his Newmarket rivals (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Andrew Balding’s Carolus Magnus confirmed debut promise with victory in the opening Alex Scott Maiden Stakes.

Third on his Doncaster debut a couple of weeks ago, the 11-2 chance opened his account with a near two-length verdict under Oisin Murphy.

“He has done really well as he had a pretty serious injury as a two-year-old. Very unusually, he split both front pasterns, so full credit to him – he has done amazingly well to come back,” said Balding.

“They are patient, understanding owners, Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds, and they always come up with good horses. It helped he knew what he was doing today, but he is a fair horse.

“He could go a mile, so we will look at our options and make a plan from there.”

Forca Brasil (purple) edges ahead
Forca Brasil (purple) edges ahead (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Murphy went on to complete a first and last race double aboard Arecibo (9-2), who made a successful first start for trainer Robert Cowell in the bet365.com Handicap.

Forca Brasil made a winning introduction for George Boughey in the bet365 British EBF Novice Stakes.

The 4-1 shot, who runs in the colours of football agent Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing Limited, was due to run in the Brocklesby Stakes at Doncaster, but had to be withdrawn on veterinary advice.

He proved his class at Newmarket, however – scoring by three-quarters of a length in the hands of Rossa Ryan to leave connections dreaming of Royal Ascot glory.

Joorabchian said: “Hopefully he will be a good horse and lead us into more fun things to come.

“It is still a little bit of a way to go to Ascot, but that is the aim and we are always trying to get there.”

Boughey added: “He has worked a few times here and it has been good.

“He looks a Norfolk horse probably, but he has done it nicely today.”

Overwrite (right) under Franny Norton
Overwrite (right) under Franny Norton (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Mark Johnston’s Overwrite (16-5) claimed a narrow verdict in the Pat Smullen Memorial Handicap under a power-packed ride from Franny Norton.

Charlie Johnston, assistant to his father, said: “That was top class from the jockey and it was a masterclass on how to ride this track. I think I knew from about 200 yards in that he was going to win.

“It was a good performance. He is probably the type to try to get high enough up in the weights to sneak into the Royal Hunt Cup.”

Of Smullen, Johnston added: “It is a very nice race to win for sure. He is not someone I knew particularly well, but he was obviously a very inspirational figure in the industry, particularly what he did in his later years in trying to do as much for the benefit of others when his time was coming.”

Double Or Bubble (15-2), not seen since scoring at Ascot in September, made a superb reappearance for Chris Wall in the Price Promise At bet365 Handicap, with Jack Mitchell the winning pilot.

Wall said: “Mix And Mingle (full sister) won this race, then she won the Chartwell at Lingfield and we thought that would be on the radar for Double Or Bubble.

“She is a bit more laidback than Mix And Mingle and she will probably get a mile, so the Conqueror Stakes at Goodwood on May 1 could be another option, but we will have to see how she takes the race.

“I thought she would run well as she has been working well. I didn’t quite expect her to do that, but you live in hope.”