Zain Claudette on course for Commonwealth Cup return

Zain Claudette will have her first run of the season in next week’s Commonwealth Cup, trainer Ismail Mohammed has confirmed.

The three-year-old daughter of No Nay Never is a course-and-distance winner, having taken a Group Three six-furlong prize at Ascot last July on her third outing.

She backed that up with success in the Group Two Lowther at York in August, giving her handler – and jockey Ray Dawson – the biggest success of their respective careers thus far.

However, she has not run since finishing 10th of 12 to Tenebrism in the Cheveley Park at Newmarket a month later, with plans for a subsequent trip to the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar shelved.

Currently a general 25-1 shot for the Group One contest at the Royal meeting, Mohammed feels bookmakers are underestimating her.

“She is in at Ascot over six furlongs,” said the Newmarket handler. “She is doing well. We have tried to do a lot of hard work with her.

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“We gave her a two-month break in the paddock last year after she did well, winning a Group Three and a Group Two. We needed to give her a break. She is in great form, doing very well.

“I saw she was 25-1 for the Commonwealth Cup. I don’t know why her odds are so big. Maybe it is because she has not run up to now, but I think when they see her declared, they will be changing those odds! She is a good price now.”

Though the Saeed Al Tayer-owned Zain Claudette did not appear to handle the ground after a sluggish start in the Cheveley Park, Mohammed believes she has strengthened up over the winter having been accorded plenty of time.

“She did not start very well in the Cheveley Park and did not run her race,” he added. “We worked her before we were going to take her to America, but I was not happy to take her there. I said it was better to give her a break and keep her fresh for this season.

“There are a lot of races for her. People ask why we will not start her off in a Listed race or Group Three, and why should we start her off in a Group One, there are no (suitable) races for her before Ascot. I think Ascot is a good spot for her.

Ray Dawson gained the biggest win of his career in the Lowther at York
Ray Dawson gained the biggest win of his career in the Lowther at York (Tim Goode/PA)

“The owners will enjoy it and we have given her so many workouts. She has galloped with older horses and she is flying.”

Future plans are fluid for the filly, who tackles top-class company for only the second time next week, having won three of her five starts last term.

“I have to see what the owner wants to do,” said the trainer. “He wants to have fun and win with her. She is only three and the owner is not keen to sell her – he wants to breed from her and she is well-bred.

“There are options. Maybe a Breeders’ Cup at the end of the season, but that is something we need to discuss.”

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