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Dawson living the dream with Zain Claudette

Ray Dawson hopes Zain Claudette has the ability to provide him with the first Group One success of his career – if not in Saturday’s Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes then at some point in the future.

Trained by Ismail Mohammed, the No Nay Never filly has won three of her four starts, including an Ascot Group Three and last time out when taking the prized scalp of Andrew Balding’s Sandrine in the Lowther Stakes at York.

She is doing her bit to propel both her trainer and jockey into the big time, and Dawson has no doubt she belongs at the highest level.

“Zain Claudette’s form going into the race is unreal, and I certainly wouldn’t swap her. Going into it I’m very excited,” he said.

“I think the Rowley Mile will suit her, and that it won’t bother her at all. She is very balanced, and you wouldn’t even notice her change her legs because she does it so quickly, and the stiff finish there will suit her.

A big smile from Ray Dawson with Zain Claudette
A big smile from Ray Dawson with Zain Claudette (Nigel French/PA)

“We’ve worked her on the Watered Gallop – and although it is a bit different, she flies down it.

“No matter what happens on Saturday we know that she is good enough to be a Group One filly at some point next year, which is great.”

Dawson – who last year spoke candidly about his battles with addiction – added: “Going to the Cheveley Park with her on Saturday is weird, because last season was what I describe as my first proper one riding, and here I am just over a year later I’m now riding a horse that is near favourite for a Group One.

“I’ve put down the drink for good this time and got the proper help and continued to get the help. Once I could live a life without needing a drink on the weekends to deal with life, I was able to give my career a proper shot.

“I’m trying not to think about the result on Saturday – if it doesn’t happen you don’t want to be too disappointed, but it would be incredible if it happened.

“I don’t mind talking about my back story, but when I ride a winner I would like people to concentrate on the winner at that time to help me move on.”

Cheveley Park target for Zain Claudette

Ismail Mohammed is aiming for the Cheveley Park Stakes with Zain Claudette – who has Classic aspirations on the horizon next year.

The filly won her third consecutive race when taking the Group Two Lowther Stakes at York last week, by a length from the previously unbeaten favourite Sandrine.

The daughter of No Nay Never had already won the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes and is set to move up to the top level in Newmarket’s Cheveley Park next month.

“We’ll give her one or two days to be happy and then we’ll start riding her again,” said Mohammed.

“She is a classic already, she’s shown us in every race that she’s improved.

“Next month it is our plan to go to Newmarket for the Group One, the Cheveley Park.”

Zain Claudette’s success on the Knavesmire was jockey Ray Dawson’s biggest winner to date, with the Princess Margaret having been his first Group success.

“We like to help the young guy get some kind of Group race,” added the Newmarket trainer.

“He’s been there from the Listed race to the Group Three and he is doing really well.”

Dawson spoke with confidence post-race about Zain Claudette’s Group One potential, and also indicated a trip beyond six furlongs will eventually prove within her compass – with the 1000 Guineas discussed for her three-year-old season.

Mohammed added: “We will be targeting the Guineas for next season.

“She handles everything very well and she can definitely go further. She (also) has a very good turn of foot.”

Owner Saeed Al Tayer has been the recipient of multiple offers for the filly, but she will be staying at her trainer’s Grange House Stables.

“She has run so well for us and she is improving – we don’t want her to go and we have had a lot of offers,” said Mohammed.

“We have to keep her. She is giving us so much fun and happiness – for a small yard, to get any Group race is so good for us.”

Zain Claudette floors Sandrine in Lowther

Zain Claudette emerged as a 1000 Guineas contender as she gave Ray Dawson his biggest career success in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes at York.

Dawson stood up in the irons to celebrate as he crossed the line, accounting for the previously unbeaten Sandrine in the Group Two over six furlongs on the Knavesmire.

The Ismail Mohammed-trained filly had given Dawson his first Group-race winner in the Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot last month, and the 6-1 shot proved a length too good for Sandrine, the 6-5 favourite, to land the spoils.

Racing under a penalty for her win in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket, Sandrine was slowly away as her Andrew Balding-trained stablemate Nymphadora made the running with Outside World, Zain Claudette and Nazanin prominent.

Zain Claudette was well positioned and quickened in the closing stages to score from the staying-on Sandrine. Desert Dreamer was third.

Mohammed said: “At Ascot she was in stall seven and was number 11 and today the same – these are my lucky numbers!

“After how she worked last Sunday, I was more than happy and came here confident.

“She is the best I have trained up to now.”

The trainer confirmed the Juddmonte Cheveley Park Stakes as the next port of call for his stable star and feels she has the potential to make up into a 1000 Guineas contender next season.

He added: “We will go to Newmarket now. She has won three times now over six furlongs, but I don’t think she is only a sprinter.

“I asked the jockey if she could stay further and he said ‘no problem’, so next year, we will go for the 1000 Guineas.”

A jubilant Dawson – who lost his claim just a week ago and last year spoke candidly about his battles with addiction – said: “She’s improved with every run and she deserved to win that on her performance.

“Going forwards, Group One is definitely not out of the equation, she’s just so straightforward and you can see she’s so relaxed.

“It’s just an absolute pleasure to be a part of it.”

Anna Lisa Balding, assistant to her husband, said of Sandrine: “We knew it would be difficult under a penalty, but she was only beaten three-quarters of a length.

“She slightly stumbled coming out of the stalls, but you can’t take anything away from the winner who has done it well.

“We’ll stick to Plan A and head to the Cheveley Park next. The only reason we came here with the penalty was because we felt it was just too long between races, we had to do something.

“She’ll have a little bit of a freshen up now. David (Probert) said she ran really well it was just the penalty that beat her. She was also having to come widest of all.

“She’s done little wrong, is a lovely filly and while it is always sad when you lose an unbeaten record, they have to be beaten sometimes.”

Lowther assignment next step for Zain Claudette

Ismail Mohammed’s Zain Claudette is primed for a step up to Group Two level in the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes.

The filly has won twice thus far, taking a maiden event at Newmarket in June before triumphing in the Group Three Princess Margaret Stakes at Ascot last month.

A further increase in grade is now on the horizon as the two-year-old is entered in the York feature on August 19, a six-furlong event for fillies.

“She’s doing very well, we’re giving her a bit of good work this week and the following week she will do some work on the grass,” Mohammed said.

“She’s ready for the big race (the Lowther), the big jump, so far she is very well.

“After the race (the Princess Margaret), she was different, she’s improved day in, day out, she’s very fresh.”

Though the chestnut has swiftly risen through the ranks to take part in Group races, Mohammed is no rush to take on Group One performers and will first see how Zain Claudette fares on the Knavesmire.

“We don’t want to make a big jump to Group One, we need to do it step by step,” he said.

Zain Claudette (right) swooped to conquer under Ray Dawson at Ascot
Zain Claudette (right) swooped to conquer under Ray Dawson at Ascot (Nigel French/PA)

“From her maiden we’ve taken the Group step, we felt she was a Group horse so we stepped up to Group Three.

“Up to now she has been super, she’s doing very well and that’s why we’ve gone again for the step up to Group Two.

“With the ground, she will go on any, she’ll love any ground.”

Zain Claudette edges thriller in Princess Margaret

Zain Claudette just got the better of Desert Dreamer in a thrilling finish to the Princess Margaret Keeneland Stakes at Ascot.

Sent off a 15-2 chance for trainer Ismail Mohammed and jockey Ray Dawson, Zain Claudette cost just £20,000 as a yearling last September, but she has more than repaid that modest price tag with Group Three glory.

Crazyland raced keenly through the early exchanges, with Nazanin also happy to be on the front end as the eventual major players took up waiting positions further back in the 10-runner field.

It looked as though Oisin Murphy had timed his challenge to perfection in delivering 9-4 favourite Desert Dreamer on the far side of the track in the last of the six furlongs, but Dawson had other ideas on Zain Claudette.

She was flying on the near side of the track, with the pair neck and neck in the shadow of the post – and Zain Claudette edging it by a nose in a photo.

Delmona raced between the duo, eventually finishing a further neck down in third.

Zain Claudette (right) and Desert Dreamer were split across the Ascot track
Zain Claudette (right) and Desert Dreamer were split across the Ascot track (Nigel French/PA)

Mohammed said: “She’s a lovely filly and is doing very well. She worked very well last week.

“With each of her runs, she is improving. She’s had three runs, a second and two wins.

“We’re planning to go for some big races with her now – she’s already won a Group Three, so we’ll be looking higher than that.”