Tag Archive for: Shaquille

Shaquille showing his gentle side at stud – Camacho

Julie Camacho has provided a positive update on how her former stable star Shaquille has settled in at stud, leaving his new handlers “pleasantly surprised” by his friendly manner.

Shaquille rose through the sprinting ranks to claim Group One glory in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and Newmarket’s July Cup, overcoming tardy starts in impressive fashion.

He is now standing at Dullingham Park and is proving popular with broodmare owners ahead of the new mating season.

“I know I’m biased but he is a lovely horse,” said Camacho. “He’s a good-looking horse, he’s got a lovely walk on him, but they weren’t quite expecting that from him.

“I think they have been pleasantly surprised with his temperament as well. I think they were all expecting him to be a bit of a nutter, but he’s not and they’ve found out at Dullingham what a lovely person he is.”

The Boodles July Festival 2023 – July Cup Day – Newmarket Racecourse
Julie Camacho and the winning connections celebrate Shaquille’s July Cup success (David Davies/PA)

Camacho got off the mark for 2024 with well-backed Newcastle winner Dingle, who fittingly carries the purple and white colours of Martin Hughes, just as Shaquille did.

“It’s nice to get going,” added Camacho on Sky Sports Racing. “The horses have been running well but we’ve just been hitting the goalposts rather than the back of the net, but he’s a grand horse is Dingle.

“He’s just moved into Shaquille’s old box and whereas Shaquille was a lovely person, he’s grumpy when I go in to see him in the morning – but you don’t mind when he does that.”

After a quiet winter, Camacho is looking forward to building her Malton string back up.

She said: “We’ve got a few on the go and the other horses will start coming back in.

“We’ll have maybe a dozen two-year-olds, most of them are still in pre-training, including a few we’ve bred ourselves – maybe there will be another Shaquille, we can hope at this stage!”

‘Maverick’ Shaq knew just when to attack

It has been a stellar year that will live long in the memory of Julie Camacho, as Shaquille’s seismic rise to sprinting stardom catapulted the Yorkshire handler to the top of the sport.

The Star Cottage operation has always been respected when it comes to handling speedsters, Judicial’s longevity was the proof in that particular pudding.

However, in Shaquille, luck had brought a rare diamond to Camacho’s door and over the course of 2023, her team honed that burgeoning talent to perfection.

Little under two miles away from where John Quinn prepared Highfield Princess to thrive in 2022, the Malton air proved ripe for propelling another fledgling speedster to the highest level, as Shaquille went from unheralded handicapper to Group One superstar.

Julie Camacho has enjoyed a fine 2023
Julie Camacho has enjoyed a fine 2023 (Tim Goode/PA)

“Shaquille was wonderful and it culminated in the two Group Ones, which were obviously unexpected when you are starting a horse off in a handicap at the Guineas meeting,” said Camacho’s husband and assistant Steve Brown.

“It’s all been a bit of a blur and when it is not as busy and we are on holiday, we might sit down and reflect on what a fantastic year we’ve had.

“At the time, it’s on to the next day and you have got to be concerned about all of your horses, it’s just another day on the treadmill really.

“It’s been beyond our wildest dreams really and has moved our yard to another level. Obviously, there were other good results, like Significantly winning the Ayr Gold Cup, and it has been a wonderful year and we don’t really want it to end.”

It is fair to say that Shaquille had his own style of getting from A to B, often leaving connections and punters sweating at various points in a contest, but when the winning post approached, his athletic prowess would come to the fore and he was always at the peak of his powers when it mattered most.

“He’s a horse who is a little bit unconventional in his running style and at times has made life that little bit harder for himself, but ultimately everything stops with the result and the results were positive and there were some great days,” continued Brown.

“I think he is a really gifted athlete and time proved that. I think he has great capacity and a great ability to maintain his speed.

“Often, horses show speed for a certain amount of the race and then gradually wither away – but he could maintain his speed and I think he is a horse of great athletic ability, which he showed for most of his career.

“He was unconventional but very effective. We all love a maverick in life and I think he had a touch of that about him, but he certainly had plenty of brilliance on his day.”

The Shaquille team celebrating at Newmarket
The Shaquille team celebrating at Newmarket (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

Despite winning three of his four two-year-old starts, there were few clues to suggest that over the next 12 months, Shaquille would develop into one of the season’s leading performers.

His three-year-old campaign got off to the worst possible start when withdrawn at the start on All-Weather Championship Finals Day, but once dominating a field of useful handicappers at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting, the momentum began to build and build before reaching a Group One crescendo during the height of summer.

“His rate of progression was unbelievable really and he stepped up to Listed and then to the Group Ones and he proved himself to be a very good horse and we really enjoyed the ride,” said Brown.

“When he won three of his four two-year-old races, he always looked very good but not to the level that we ended up racing at, we thought he would just be what you would call a ‘nice horse’ level, not a Group One horse.

Steve Brown congratulates Oisin Murphy after Shaquille wins the Commonwealth Cup
Steve Brown congratulates Oisin Murphy after Shaquille wins the Commonwealth Cup (John Walton/PA)

“He did catch us by surprise, but the one thing I have always said was when he would come back in after he won, he never came in tired, he was always a fresh horse afterwards.

“He always galloped out well after his races and you always felt there was more there, but at what level, we weren’t sure. It’s lovely when you can just progress a horse quietly through the grades with no pressure.”

There was soon no hiding place for Shaquille, as victory in Newbury’s Carnarvon Stakes left connections with little option but to take a shot at the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Even so, Camacho and Brown were still refusing to feel the pressure, as they set about enjoying rubbing shoulders with the best.

That laid-back approach seemed to be inherited by Shaquille himself, as he reared and then sat dozily in the stalls as the best three-year-old sprinters were already making their way up the Ascot straight.

Eventually getting into stride under Oisin Murphy, he worked his way back into the contest before his raw power took him past Aidan O’Brien’s big-race fancy Little Big Bear in the closing stages.

“He went from his novices to a handicap, to a Listed and then the programme book forced you up to Group One and we sort of thought it was worth a go,” explained Brown.

“We went to Ascot feeling no pressure, because the Coolmore horse was a hotpot and we just thought we would go and have a lovely time – and if he ran well, we would be delighted. Of course, it was such a great day, to win it was wonderful.”

Shaquille getting the better of Little Big Bear in the Commonwealth Cup
Shaquille getting the better of Little Big Bear in the Commonwealth Cup (David Davies/PA)

He went on: “It was a totally different feeling to the July Cup, because then you had expectation, whereas we were pretty cool at Royal Ascot and thought if we hit the frame, then everyone has had a great day out and we’ll go home still having a progressive horse.”

With a first Group One in the bank and a day to remember etched into the memory, the pressure Camacho and co declined to feel heading into Ascot suddenly weighed massively on their shoulders as Shaquille was tasked with backing up his impressive Commonwealth Cup in Newmarket’s July Cup.

He was sent of the 5-2 joint-favourite alongside his Ascot rival Little Big Bear and, while the Coolmore charge sank under the weight of expectation, the son of Charm Spirit grew in stature to deliver an utterly devastating display.

Again, Shaquille gave his rivals a glimmer of hope and all associated with him palpitations by rearing at the start and exiting the stalls in his own time.

However, whereas at Ascot he worked his way gradually into contention, this time around the colt carted his substitute rider Rossa Ryan to the head of proceedings and never let up as he galloped out to back-to-back big-race triumphs.

“Newmarket obviously came with pressure, but you also had the realisation that this can be achieved,” continued Brown.

“You have suddenly got a very good horse and it was sort of ‘why can’t we think we can go and win the July Cup’ – and fortunately he did.”

There was a sting to the tail in the Shaquille story, as he was unable to back up his Ascot and Newmarket heroics when bidding for a third Group One triumph in Haydock’s Sprint Cup.

It was the final time the champion sprinter was seen on a racecourse before heading off into retirement and stallion duties at Dullingham Park Stud, with that Merseyside flop the only black mark on his phenomenal journey to the top of the sprinting tree.

“We still never found a satisfactory explanation for that,” added Brown.

“The horses weren’t in good form and I suppose that is the most plausible reason, but I have it in the back of my mind that he put so much into Ascot and Newmarket and did that just have an effect on him on that day at Haydock.

“We will never know unfortunately, and the only shame is his career ended on a bit of a low, as the rest of it was magical.”

Sprinting star Shaquille retired to stud

Dual Group One winner Shaquille has been retired from racing and will stand at Dullingham Park Stud.

Trained by Julie Camacho, the three-year-old won seven of his nine career starts, highlighted by victories in both the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket.

Shaquille then tried to bring up his Group One hat-trick in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, but having raced keenly, he dropped away to finish last of the 16 runners.

A planned run on Champions Day was abandoned after the Charm Spirit colt failed to satisfy the Camacho team in his final spin and he now bows out as the winner of over £782,000 in prize money.

Camacho, who is assisted by her husband Steve Brown, tweeted: “Shaquille was a gentleman at home and came alive on the racecourse. He gave us the best days of our racing lives managing to both outsprint and outstay his rivals to win two Group Ones this season.

“His outstanding looks and ability have been there for all to see and in our 50 years in the industry we have not seen a horse like him.

“We are grateful to his owner/breeder Martin Hughes for allowing us to raise and train him. We were so lucky to experience his ability and look forward to seeing his progeny.”

Shaquille will be the first stallion to stand at Steve Parkin’s Dullingham Park, which is near Newmarket.

Shaquille ruled out of Champions Sprint engagement

Commonwealth Cup and July Cup hero Shaquille was not declared for Saturday’s Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot as connections are not completely satisfied with his well being.

Julie Camacho’s three-year-old has been one of the stars of the season, winning his first four starts of the campaign including his top-level victories at Royal Ascot and Newmarket during the summer.

He blotted his copybook in the Sprint Cup at Haydock last month – but following a pleasing racecourse gallop at York last week, hopes were high he could show his true colours on Qipco Champions Day.

However, Shaquille will not be making the trip to Berkshire.

Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant, said: “He wasn’t just tracking through as normal behind with his movement.

“It looks minimal, but given the ground conditions, which are obviously going to be pretty testing, we’re just not prepared to take any chances with him. It’s as simple as that really.”

With options running out, Brown confirmed Shaquille will “probably not” run again this year, while no final decision has been made on the colt’s longer-term future.

Shaquille set for racecourse spin ahead of possible Ascot date

Shaquille’s participation on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot may rest on how he comes through a racecourse gallop next week.

Julie Camacho’s Commonwealth and July Cup winner ran no sort of a race when last seen in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, a performance which still has connections scratching their heads.

Having missed the break badly in both his Group One wins, he broke on terms on Merseyside only to be beaten by halfway.

Nothing has subsequently come to light, but should he continue to please on the gallops, then October 21 is likely to have a ring around it on the calendar.

“He’s fine, we’re just taking it one step at a time,” said Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant.

Shaquille and his connections after the July Cup
Shaquille and his connections after the July Cup (David Davies/PA)

“He worked on Saturday and we were pleased with him, he’ll work again this week and the following week we’ll go away and have a racecourse gallop somewhere.

“Nothing is decided yet, that will be just to take him to a different environment and see how he handles it and to get him back on a racecourse, get the blood flowing a little bit and then we’ll see from there.”

Reflecting on Haydock, Brown added: “It’s disappointing that we haven’t found an absolute reason that he was so below form at Haydock but as I always say, sometimes you just don’t have an answer. We might like to think we do, but sometimes we just don’t.

“I’ve slightly taken the view that it was just too bad to be true unfortunately. Whilst we were all devastated on the day, the only thing we can do is regroup and look forward.”

Shaquille is one of 23 remaining in contention for the British Champions Sprint, for which last year’s winner Kinross is ante-post favourite following his near-miss in France on Sunday.

In the Champion Stakes, the progressive Horizon Dore heads the market with Coral with Bay Bridge, King Of Steel and Mostahdaf among the 16 contenders.

Paddington and Tahiyra headline 18 in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Free Wind, Time Lock and Via Sistina among 26 possibles in the Fillies & Mares.

Trueshan, Kyprios, Courage Mon Ami and Coltrane are all still among 17 in the Long Distance Cup.

Speed king Shaquille remains in Champions Sprint mix

One final foray on home soil this season remains a possibility for Shaquille with connections leaving the door open for a tilt at the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot next month.

Julie Camacho’s three-year-old was brilliant in winning his first four starts of the season, including back-to-back Group One victories in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and Newmarket’s July Cup.

He was a hot favourite to make it a top-level hat-trick in the Sprint Cup at Haydock on his latest outing, but while there was no repeat of the slow starts he suffered in his previous two races, he faded out of contention after making the running to finish last of 16 runners.

While no immediate excuse came to light, aside from poor stable form, Camacho’s husband and assistant Steve Brown reports the three-year-old to be in good shape after returning to work and a Champions Day appearance remains on the table.

“I wouldn’t say there’s been anything obvious, there’s been one or two small things we’re still investigating but at home he seems well in himself,” he said.

“We were only ever going to Ascot anyway after Haydock, certainly domestically. He’s just returned to cantering and we’ll see how he is in the next fortnight.

“I hope we can (get to Ascot), I think that’s what Martin (Hughes, part-owner) would like, but it’s one we’ll have to sit down with Martin about and just see how the horse is nearer the time.”

The Camacho team managed only one winner from 43 runners in August and September so far has yielded a solitary success.

However, there were shoots of recovery last weekend, with Significantly beaten a short head in the valuable Portland Handicap at Doncaster, while Raatea and Winged Messenger were also placed, on Town Moor and at Chester respectively.

Brown, who confirmed Significantly could make a quick reappearance in the Ayr Gold Cup on Saturday, added: “They seem to be turning a corner slowly.

“It’s been a frustrating time, but we’ve seen it before and unfortunately we’ll see it again. It’s the nature of the game we’re in, so we’re quite calm about it.

“On the whole last weekend we were quite happy with how they ran, one or two got stuck in the ground but we felt that was more of a reason than anything else.

“We’ve taken all the advice we’ve been given and hopefully the flood will come!”

Shaquille disappointment ‘in the mystery column’

The Shaquille team remained puzzled on Sunday by their stable star’s uncharacteristic effort in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

The Julie Camacho-trained colt has been superb all season, with a four-race winning streak including two Group One titles, in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket.

He missed the break on the latter two occasions and was schooled through the stalls at home to remedy the issue, with the session seeming to be a success and confidence high as he headed to Haydock as the 11-10 favourite.

Shaquille was taken to post early by James Doyle, who then had to dismount before the market leader entered the stalls.

This time he did not miss the break and led in the early stages, but as the race unfolded he faded abruptly two furlongs from home before he was eased up by Doyle, coming home last of the 16 starters.

He pulled up sound, with no obvious issues, leaving connections still looking for the cause of an inexplicably heavy defeat.

“Nothing has come to light immediately, he was fine post-race – he was sound and his heart rate was normal,” said Camacho’s assistant and husband, Steve Brown.

“He seems bright and breezy this morning, he’s his normal self, he’s pretty fresh and well if anything.

“It’s all a bit of a puzzle at this moment in time, we’ll take some more tests this week and see if we can find what was amiss.

“He obviously wasn’t himself, he didn’t run any sort of a race and James did the right thing and looked after him thankfully.”

“I’m sure something will come to the surface at some point, but at the minute it’s in the mystery column, I’m afraid.”

Shaquille heads for Sprint Cup after perfect preparation

Connections of Shaquille feel the popular colt’s preparation could not have gone any better ahead of his bid for a third successive Group One victory in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Julie Camacho’s stable star has enjoyed a meteoric rise through the sprinting ranks, with a handicap win at Newmarket and a Listed success at Newbury followed by back-to-back wins at the highest level.

What makes the Shaquille story all the more intriguing is the fact that in both the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket he badly missed the break, only to stage two remarkable recoveries to reel in his rivals and in the end win comfortably.

With a recent session with starting stalls specialists Craig and Jake Witherford having gone smoothly, Camacho’s husband and assistant Steve Brown is hopeful he will jump off on terms on Merseyside.

He said: “The build-up for him has been smooth and we obviously did some stalls work with him a couple of weeks ago with Craig and Jake, and James (Doyle, jockey) came along.

“He’s a very straightforward horse at home, he doesn’t cause us any problems and his work has been to its usual standard, I would say. It’s been what we expected really.

“He looks really fit and well and everything has gone to plan. We planned four good bits of work, which he’s done, and we haven’t missed a day with him – I don’t think we can have any gripes about his preparation at all.

“He seems adaptable on different tracks. I suppose the nearest thing to Haydock we’ve had so far is probably Newbury and everything there went according to plan, so we hope for the same on Saturday.”

Trainer Julie Camacho following Shaquille's July Cup success
Trainer Julie Camacho following Shaquille’s July Cup success (David Davies/The Jockey Club)

While Brown’s heart is likely to be racing after Shaquille is loaded into the stalls ahead of his latest attempt at top-level success, he is doing his best to keep cool in the meantime.

He added: “There’s plenty happening before Saturday and every horse is of the same importance and value, so you’ve just got to go about your business as normal and then when the time comes you just have to hope everything goes smoothly and he puts in a good performance, which we know he’s capable of.

“You’d rather we had a conventional situation, but we haven’t in his last two races. We’ve acknowledged that we had a problem, we’ve tried to do something about it, we’re pleased with what happened at home and we hope to see that on the track on the day.”

Karl Burke’s Spycatcher and the George Boughey-trained Believing have both been declared to carry the colours of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, although the former is unlikely to run unless the rain arrives.

Having won two Listed races and a Group Three this season, Believing was supplemented at a cost of £20,000 on Monday, with her connections happy to roll the dice.

“She’s very versatile and she’s very quick. It looks like it’s going to be quick ground and she is fast,” said Highclere’s managing director Harry Herbert.

“We wouldn’t necessarily have considered this race at the first entry stage, but with the way she is now and the way she’s improving, we were keen to give it a go.

“It was a lot of money for the shareholders to shell out (to supplement), but she’s earned plenty of prize-money, her value is significant and we felt that with nothing else obvious to have a pop at, we should have a go.

“It will be very exciting to see how she gets on.”

Jamie Spencer and Khaadem after winning at Royal Ascot
Jamie Spencer and Khaadem after winning at Royal Ascot (John Walton/PA)

A competitive field also includes the first and second from the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes in Khaadem and Sacred.

The Charlie Hills-trained Khaadem was a shock 80-1 winner at the Royal meeting and has since finished out of the places in the July Cup and the Nunthorpe at York, but Hills is looking forward to seeing him return to six furlongs on fast ground.

He said: “He looks tremendous and great in himself and with all those sprints you just need a bit of luck, but I think the ground will suit him really well.”

Other hopefuls include Archie Watson’s Wokingham winner Saint Lawrence, the Ralph Beckett-trained Lezoo, Henry Candy’s July Cup runner-up Run To Freedom and Regional from Ed Bethell’s yard.

Regional (centre) has already won at Haydock twice
Regional (centre) has already won at Haydock twice (Nigel French/PA)

The latter came up a little short when fifth in the Nunthorpe last month, but is two from two at Haydock and his trainer is excited to be stepping back up in trip from five to six furlongs.

He said: “We’re looking forward to having a crack at it. It’s a full field and a wide-open race.

“It’ll be a tough race and any one of them could win it. If Shaquille turns up, I’d say we’re all playing for a place, but outside of him we’re all there with a big chance of finishing in the money.”

Shaquille the star attraction in Sprint Cup

Shaquille is one of a maximum field of 17 runners set to go to post for Saturday’s Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Julie Camacho’s three-year-old has made rapid progress through the ranks this season and victory this weekend would leave little doubt about his champion sprinter status.

He produced a remarkable performance to win the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot under Oisin Murphy after completely missing the start – and repeated the trick in the July Cup at Newmarket in the hands of Rossa Ryan.

This weekend Shaquille will be reunited with James Doyle, who steered him to his first two victories of the season but missed both of his Group One wins due to Godolphin commitments.

Julie Camacho's handling of Shaquille has been one of the stories of the season
Julie Camacho’s handling of Shaquille has been one of the stories of the season (David Davies/PA)

As expected Ralph Beckett has not declared Kinross, instead electing to saddle the filly Lezoo, who got back to winning ways in a Listed contest at Newmarket last time out.

Spycatcher has been declared by Karl Burke, however, despite owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing stating earlier in the week they would more than likely rely upon the supplemented George Boughey-trained Believing due to the prevailing quick ground.

Spycatcher still remains a doubtful runner, though, with Highclere’s Harry Herbert explaining he is only there on the off chance the thunder storms which are forecast for Sunday arrive 24 early.

“We’ve declared but just in case the thunder, which at the moment isn’t due until Sunday, somehow hits early,” said Herbert.

“Speaking to Karl he said we’d be kicking ourselves if that happened and we weren’t in it.

“It’s very frustrating because the horse is in fantastic form and we’d love to run him but at this stage it is highly doubtful. We’ll probably have to wait for autumn targets with Ascot on Champions Day high up the list.”

Khaadem caused a huge shock at Royal Ascot
Khaadem caused a huge shock at Royal Ascot (John Walton/PA)

Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Mill Stream was another supplemented earlier in the week after two impressive wins in France.

Khaadem, the 80-1 winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee at Royal Ascot, is in contention, as is Saint Lawrence, the Wokingham hero who went close in the Prix Maurice de Gheest for Archie Watson.

Ed Bethell is represented by Regional, unbeaten at Haydock in two outings as he steps back up to six furlongs.

Run To Freedom, Sacred, Swingalong and Garrus are all among the big field, with Richard Hannon’s Happy Romance the first and only reserve.

James Doyle delighted to get back on Shaquille in Sprint Cup

James Doyle is relishing the prospect of being reunited with Shaquille as Julie Camacho’s speedball goes for a Group One hat-trick in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.

Doyle rode the Charm Spirit colt in his first two starts of a whirlwind three-year-old campaign, winning a Newmarket handicap before taking the Listed Carnarvon Stakes at Newbury.

The jockey’s Godolphin commitments meant he missed out on riding Shaquille in the Commonwealth Cup and the July Cup when he completed a huge double, with Oisin Murphy on board at Royal Ascot and Rossa Ryan in the plate at Newmarket’s July Festival.

On both occasions he missed the break – rocking backwards in the stalls as they opened – and it is a measure of his remarkable ability that he still managed to recover and ultimately reel in his rivals at Ascot and Newmarket after giving them a significant head start.

Shaquille and James Doyle on his seasonal debut at Newmarket
Shaquille and James Doyle on his seasonal debut at Newmarket (Nigel French/PA)

Doyle is now free to take the ride again and following a pleasing stalls session at Camacho’s North Yorkshire base last month, with specialist horsemen Craig and Jake Witherford on hand to assist as a stalls rug was used, the leading rider is optimistic his big-race mount can cement his status as the season’s top speedster.

“I went to sit on him during York week and we just popped him in the stalls on the Malton gallops there,” he said on a press call organised by QIPCO British Champions Series.

“It was nice to sit on him at home, the guys have all said he’s completely different at home which was kind of hard to imagine.

“It was nice to experience that, he really is a calm and collected character in his own environment, it was nice to see him like that.”

Oisin Murphy taking the ride in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot
Oisin Murphy taking the ride in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

Doyle added: “On the track he’s great in the prelims, he’s really grown up in that regard. He’s been foot perfect in terms of going to post, really relaxed and doing all those things right.

“In the stalls he can get a bit tricky and he’s just bunny-hopped out the last twice but thankfully the twice I’ve ridden him he’s actually broken fairly cleanly.

“On the track he’s a big, boisterous sprinter who knows he’s quick and he wants to be fast, whereas at home he knows his environment, he knows his routine and he’s so relaxed.

“The other week we popped out of the gates the first time and I had to squeeze away to get him to do even a half speed. The second time we jumped out was upsides another horse and I had to ask him to go past horses. He is a complete puppy dog at home.”

Doyle is hopeful that the schooling will ease Shaquille’s difficulties at the start, though of course the horse has demonstrated that a steady start is not enough to stop him from winning Group One races.

Rossa Ryan taking the reins in the July Cup
Rossa Ryan taking the reins in the July Cup (David Davies/PA)

He said: “Going into Saturday the weight-for-age allowance is catching up with us – he got 6lb off the older horses in the July Cup and that’s brought back to 2lb. That does tighten things up, but you pray that you can jump off and get a clean start.

“Do I think he could still do it if he missed the break and gave them a bit of a lead early on? I genuinely believe in the engine this horse has, but it would certainly make things a lot trickier given we’re not getting so much weight.”

Naturally Doyle was disappointed not to be on board during Shaquille’s two previous wins and followed him home at Royal Ascot as his mount, Charlie Appleby’s Noble Style, finished ninth behind him.

The rider could not look on so closely in the July Cup as he was required to ride at Ascot and therefore had to rely on updates from the stalls handlers whilst he prepared to load for another race.

“It was tough. In the lead up to Ascot it looked like we would only run one horse in the Commonwealth and it looked like I’d be free, I remember being really excited for him and documented in the media that he was my best ride of the week,” he said.

“I was so delighted (when he won), I remember after the line catching up with him to gave him a pat on the head. I know how much this means to Julie and her whole team, they’re nervous before he runs and they’re elated when he wins – they really show all the emotions that make this sport so great.

“I didn’t get a chance to watch the race live at Newmarket, but when I cantered to the start (at Ascot) I asked the guys down at the stalls what happened and the first thing I heard was that he’d missed the break by five lengths and then they said he absolutely bolted up. I thought ‘well, he’s some machine’!”

Whilst Doyle is regaining the ride on Shaquille, next week he will miss out on partnering last season’s 1000 Guineas heroine Cachet when she is scheduled to make her long awaited return in the Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster, as he is otherwise engaged.

“I have spoken to George (Boughey) and I’ve seen pictures of Cachet and she looks in great form,” he said.

“Unfortunately I’m on duty that weekend, Martin Harley is getting married on the Sunday after the Leger so I’ll be over at Adare Manor for Martin’s wedding.

“It will be really sad to miss out on the ride but I think Martin would kill me if I wasn’t there!”

Believing and Mill Stream add spice to Sprint Cup mix

Believing and Mill Stream have been supplemented to take on Shaquille in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock on Saturday.

A total of 23 speedsters are in contention for the six-furlong Group One, with the Julie Camacho-trained Shaquille very much the star attraction as he looks to add to his previous top-level wins this summer in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot and the July Cup at Newmarket.

The George Boughey-trained Believing and Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Mill Stream are two interesting contenders after their respective connections paid the £20,000 required to add them to the field.

Believing has won two Listed races and a Group Three this season and is one of two potential runners for the Highclere Thoroughbred Racing team along with Karl Burke’s Spycatcher, who was beaten a short head by King Gold in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last month.

However, the latter appears unlikely to make the trip to Merseyside.

Harry Herbert, Highclere’s managing director, said: “Believing was impressive winning last time and the way she has been since leads George to think she’s improving rapidly.

“Certainly looking at her physically that is exactly what she’s doing, so we looked at all the options for her and felt this was an opportunity to have a crack at a Group One race.

“With ground conditions quickening up it’s possible the field will reduce, but it’s more the way she’s coming into the race and the opinion the trainer has of her.

“She’s very smart and with a filly like this that’s improving, the shareholders were keen to give it a go and it’s very exciting.”

Spycatcher (Spycatcher (blue) is unlikely to run in the Sprint Cup ) has the Sprint Cup as his aim
Spycatcher (blue) is unlikely to run in the Sprint Cup (David Davies/PA)

Of Spycatcher, Herbert added: “He’s in great form the horse, but we definitely wouldn’t risk him on quick ground.

“This has been the target for a while now, but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll run looking at the forecast. You never know, if a thunderstorm hits or something happens before declaration time then we may reconsider, but we need to protect him.

“He’s in at Ascot on Champions Day and we’ve got to be patient. He’s a wonderful horse who is improving all the time, but at this stage I’d say we’d struggle to run him on Saturday unless something out of the ordinary happened with regards to the weather forecast.”

Mill Stream won a Listed race and a Group Three at the French track in August and fully merits his place in Group One company.

“Mill Stream has come out of his Deauville race in good order, so we have decided to take the opportunity to run him again while he is good form as there are no other options for him until Champions Day,” said Chapple-Hyam.

Ralph Beckett has left in both Kinross and Lezoo after on Sunday suggesting he is likely to rely upon the latter, while Aidan O’Brien could saddle one or both of Aesop’s Fables and The Antarctic.

Other hopefuls include Ed Bethell’s Regional, the William Haggas-trained Sacred and July Cup runner-up Run To Freedom from Henry Candy’s yard.

Shaquille proving a willing student in pre-Haydock stalls tuition

Julie Camacho’s super sprinter Shaquille has been doing his stalls homework ahead of his run in Haydock’s Betfair Sprint Cup.

The three-year-old has been an unstoppable force this season, winning a Newmarket handicap before stepping into Listed company to take the Carnarvon Stakes by two lengths – both times under James Doyle.

Doyle’s duties with Godolphin prevented him from taking the ride on the colt in the Commonwealth Cup and his loss was Oisin Murphy’s gain as he prevailed at Group One level by a length and a quarter.

The same situation arose in the July Cup at Newmarket, where Rossa Ryan got the leg-up as Shaquille gained another top-flight success for the Camacho team. On both of his most recent runs, however, the bay left himself with ground to make up when rearing in the stalls and missing the break.

Shaquille galloping to victory at Royal Ascot
Shaquille galloping to victory at Royal Ascot (David Davies/PA)

As a result Camacho and her husband and assistant Steve Brown have turned to Craig Witherford, a specialist horseman who helps with tricky loaders. Doyle was on board for the schooling and remains first choice for Haydock, if his Godolphin commitments leave him available.

“He is in good form, everything’s going to plan for a week on Saturday at Haydock,” said Brown.

“He had a little rest after the July Cup, which was always our intention, he’s done two bits of work to his normal standard – he’s not a flashy worker at home.

“I had a chat with Craig after Newmarket because we thought Ascot was a one-off, but then it wasn’t, so we needed to do something to try to make him jump out more convincingly.

“He was loaded with a rug and before he jumped out the rug was taken off, it certainly worked on Thursday.

“He jumped out and looked pretty convincing, hopefully that will be the case when he goes to Haydock.

“It all about your use of energy, it’d be nice if he could get out smoothly and we’d really see what he can do then.”

He added on the jockey situation: “James has always been our first choice since the start of the year, we haven’t discussed it fully but I think he’d be our first port of call – we’ll see what his availability is and go from there.”

Shaquille ready to begin Sprint Cup prep

Julie Camacho’s July Cup winner Shaquille will begin fast work this weekend as he gears up for the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Winner of the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, the Charm Spirit three-year-old followed up with a second Group One success at Newmarket to take his record to seven wins from eight starts.

Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant, says there has been plenty of big-money interest from potential suitors for the champion sprinter-elect, although any decision will be left to co-owner and joint-breeder Martin Hughes.

Winning connections with Shaquille and jockey Rossa Ryan at Newmarket
Winning connections with Shaquille and jockey Rossa Ryan at Newmarket (David Davies for The Jockey Club)

“There has been lots of interest in him,” he admitted. “We have directed that down to Martin. He’s waded through it and I think he’s keen to do something more towards the end of the year, really.

“He said pretty early on it was something we’d discuss at the end of the year and we should just get on and enjoy the racing for now in the short term.

“There are lots of scenarios, but he’s been wonderful whatever happens.”

Shaquille has taken his length-and-a-half defeat of Run To Freedom in his stride and the team at Malton in North Yorkshire are now eyeing a Group One treble on September 9.

“Shaquille is in really good form. We purposely gave him a quiet couple of weeks after Newmarket which was always the plan,” added Brown.

“He has been grateful of that I think. He looks well and it has freshened him up. He was pretty quiet for a week there and gradually you could see he was getting over things. He has regrouped nicely and is back cantering.

“We are very pleased with him. He is a very straightforward horse at home and he will do his first bit of fast work on Saturday.

“We are all systems go to Haydock and we’re looking forward to it.

“He unfortunately gives himself a little bit of a tougher time than he might have if he was a little bit more conventional in his use of energy, but he doesn’t.

“He has a great will and a great way of getting the job done. He’s a determined sort of horse, but it is not always as conventional as it might be.”

Options remain open for the colt after the Sprint Cup, although the Qipco British Champions Sprint at Ascot is a more likely option than heading to Santa Anita for the Breeders’ Cup.

“I would think the obvious route would be to go to Champions Day,” said Brown. “We’ve obviously had a little bit of interest in the possibility of going abroad this year, but I think we will be staying at home and probably go to Ascot.

Shaquille gave jockey Rossa Ryan his first Group One success
Shaquille gave jockey Rossa Ryan his first Group One success (David Davies/PA)

“We’ll go a step at a time, but it will have been a long year by then and he’s still three-year-old and we have to be mindful of that.

“The Breeders’ Cup has been mentioned, but the thing you’d be slightly guarded about at the minute is he’s slow-starting.

“The gate-speed of the Americans, they are so quickly away that I think we’d be at a real disadvantage there.

“The Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint is five (furlongs) and the dirt is six – we’d probably want it the other way round.

“But we’ll take a step at a time and we’ll know more after Haydock and go from there. You have to keep an open mind.”

‘It means the world – everything I’ve worked for’ – Rossa Ryan

Rossa Ryan had just one thing on his mind after riding his first Group One winner with Shaquille – his parents.

After all the interviews were done in a windswept Newmarket winner’s enclosure following the Pertemps-sponsored July Cup and the horses had long since departed, the young rider still had plenty of emotion in his voice, almost overwhelmed by a victory that meant so much in so many ways.

Ryan had been at something of a crossroads when parting company with the burgeoning Amo Racing operation, a move announced last August.

To his credit, one of the first to congratulate him amid the throng of well-wishers was Amo’s founder Kia Joorabchian, who wrapped an arm around the jockey with hearty words of congratulation.

Jockey Rossa Ryan with the trophy after winning the Pertemps Network July Cup at Newmarket
Jockey Rossa Ryan with the trophy after winning the Pertemps Network July Cup at Newmarket (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

The parting may have been amicable, yet Ryan can be forgiven if he ever doubted himself. No need. He has been riding as well as anyone over the past few months, and the length-and-a-half success aboard Shaquille – not for a big yard, but that of an underdog form Norton, North Yorkshire – was testament to his immense ability.

He had only come in for the ride after Oisin Murphy, who was aboard when the colt had been victorious against his own age group in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, had been suspended.

And against the older horses not everything had gone to plan, with Shaquille falling out of the stalls and then lit up.

Ryan said: “I had to make a move in the middle part of the race – that was him. I had no option. I just let him blow out and grab his wind and he just went away.

“He doesn’t have to do anything right – he has got the ability.”

He added: “I didn’t have much of a choice. I tried to settle him in behind, but he wasn’t having it.

“So once he put his head in front three out, he filled up for me and I just managed to grab hold of him and pull him back a bit.

“Two out, he kicked and he stayed going. I saw someone out of the corner of my eye and he kicked again for me at the half-furlong pole. It was just an incredible performance.

“It is not like he’s shown up a bad field. And he’s doing it in a fashion.”

Ryan was full of praise for the Julie Camacho-trained three-year-old, who showed plenty of guts to fend off Run To Freedom.

But he had just one thing really on his mind, and he was abundant in his acknowledgement of his parents.

“It means the world – everything I’ve worked for,” Ryan said.

“Mum and dad starting me off at home, everything they have put into me, I can’t thank them enough.

Shaquille and jockey Rossa Ryan after winning the Pertemps Network July Cup
Shaquille and jockey Rossa Ryan after winning the Pertemps Network July Cup (David Davies for the Jockey Club/PA)

“They are the backbone behind it all. They have kept me on the straight and narrow for so long.

“I am so grateful to them. It will mean a lot to them as well.

“It has been a big year. It is down to my agent and I couldn’t do it without him.

“I am looking to build on it every season and it is going the right way so far. I just hope we can keep it going.”

Injury and suspension aside, it would be a brave man to back against him doing that.

Superb Shaquille powers to July Cup glory

Shaquille shot to the sprinting summit at Newmarket as Julie Camacho’s speedster doubled his big-race tally in the Pertemps Network July Cup Stakes.

The three-year-old was competing in handicap company on the weekend of the opening Classics of the season – but he has since announced himself as a star of the division and having taken the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, he took the sting out of his elders here on Newmarket’s July course.

In scenes reminiscent of Ascot, Shaquille bunny-hopped as the gates opened, giving away plenty of ground.

However, while at Ascot Oisin Murphy had time to creep his way into contention, Shaquille was not hanging around on the wide expansive track at HQ on this occasion and pulled his way to the front to eyeball the front-running Art Power.

Rossa Ryan (right) and connections celebrate
Rossa Ryan (right) and connections celebrate (Tim Goode/PA)

With two furlongs to run Rossa Ryan let the 5-2 joint-favourite have his head and the duo soon set about putting the race to bed.

Although Henry Candy’s Run To Freedom and Ralph Beckett’s Kinross were breathing down his neck in the final furlong, Shaquille was never slowing down and kept on strongly in the closing stages to come home a length-and-a-half clear of the runner-up.

Shaquille had given his Yorkshire-based team of Camacho and her husband Steve Brown their first Group One victory at Ascot and after quickly doubling their tally, he provided his jockey with his finest hour, too, with Ryan, who only picked up the ride on Thursday, tasting top-level success for the first time.

It could be the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock next and both Betfair and Paddy Power make the winner their 7-4 favourite.

“Why does he keep doing everything wrong,” said Camacho immediately after the race. “I just wish he’d do things right. He was keen, wasn’t he. I’m at a loss for words!”

Having become the first female trainer to break the £1million mark in prize-money in a season, Camachco composed herself thereafter and added: “It is brilliant. It is not as if it is an overnight success.

Shaquille powers home
Shaquille powers home (David Davies for The Jockey Club)

“We have been at it a long time. It is just nice that people in the north can have a bit of success, because there are some really good trainers in the north and if we can get the ammunition, we can do well with them.

“We will probably go to Haydock, although we will put him in at Deauville (Prix Maurice de Gheest).

“Steve will discuss it with Martin (Hughes, joint-owner). I’m only a very small part. Steve plays a bigger part than I do.”

She added: “I was wondering what he was doing after the stalls opened. He came on pretty keen and he did at Ascot, which isn’t ideal.

“I keep saying I wish he’d do everything right. He drives us mad.

“I think since we are beating the older horses, this was better than Ascot. We were confident the horse was fit and well and he was in good form, but then we are taking on the older horses, aren’t we?”

Brown said: “It was pretty breathtaking. I thought he’d done it all wrong today, slowly away. Oisin was quiet with him at Ascot, but Rossa chose to get close to the pace early and I thought we were doing too much from a fair way out, but to pick up from that you have to say he is a special athlete.

“He seems to be fluffing his lines a bit at the start. We hoped Ascot was an exception, but he’s getting something in his mind – it’s possibly the rug.

“We hope it doesn’t prevent him being successful going forward.”

He went on: “We are very proud of him. It is obviously unusual waters for us, so you have to take a little bit of time to absorb everything, but if I was sat at home with a cup of tea, I’d be thinking we’ve seen a really good racehorse today.

“It has been a slow process. You go back to last December and we were at a cold Wolverhampton on a Saturday night, I believe.

“So we didn’t see the talent at this level immediately. For all we knew we had a progressive horse. All-Weather Championships day was a disaster and we were forced down a different route. We tried to do it step by step really.

“At home, he is a lovely character, very laid back and doesn’t put a foot wrong, but doesn’t immediately show his talent. We would have three or four horses who would comfortably work better than him.

“We need to remember this horse has been training quite early in the winter to get him ready for All-Weather Finals Day, so at some point I wouldn’t mind giving him a couple of quiet weeks to let him strengthen. He is still a baby, for all he is a talented one. We will have a chat over a cup of tea.”

Asked how they celebrated after Royal Ascot, Brown said: “We stopped at the services and we did get brave and had an M&S sandwich, didn’t we. We pushed the boat out. We are not social animals. We just work hard and some days you have great days like this and other are disappointing.

“I don’t think it is going to change us too much! It wasn’t a prawn sandwich – strictly egg. Nice and simple. Julie is a bit more fancy. She could go a ham salad. That will be it, we are always thinking of tomorrow.”