MARAAHEL TEAM CONSIDER ANOTHER CHAMPION STAKES BID
SCHIERGEN PONDERS PRIZE FOR SOLDIER HOLLOW
Maraahel could bid for an elusive first Group One victory in the £350,000 Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at Newmarket on Champions’ Day, Saturday, October 14.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained five-year-old, an excellent third behind David Junior and Pride in last year’s renewal, landed the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, and narrowly lost out to stable companion and fellow entry Notnowcato in the Group One Juddmonte International Stakes last time out at York on August 22.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum, revealed today:“Maraahel is a possible runner in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes, although I haven’t discussed the options yet with the owner.
“He worked yesterday morning and everyone was happy with him. He came out of his last race fine and I don’t think he’s missed a day since.
“He’s a neat and relatively light-framed colt and doesn’t take an awful lot of racing, so we would always try and spread his races out, hence the reason he has not run since August.
“The ground does not appear to affect him adversely either way, but he wouldn’t want extremes of going. He seems happy on most ground. Obviously, it would be great to get a Group One win from him.”
German handler Peter Schiergen is no stranger to success on these shores, having sent out Boreal to land the Group One Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs in 2002, and he is considering a tilt at the Newmarket showpiece with Soldier Hollow.
The six-year-old son of In The Wings, who has been successful three times in Group One company, twice in Italy and once in Germany, was last seen in action at Longchamp last weekend when winning the Group Two Prix Dollar, in which he showed an excellent attitude to get the better of Manduro by a neck.
Schiergen commented today: “Soldier Hollow is not a certain runner at Newmarket as I need to talk with the owner first. There are other options for the horse, including the Group One Premio Roma, which he has won for the past two seasons.
“He won well last time in France and would want some cut in the ground if he runs, while 10 furlongs is his best trip.”
The trainer added that his other entry Arcadio, conqueror of Soldier Hollow in a mile Group Two contest at Cologne in June, would not be aimed at the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes.
The 10-furlong Emirates Airline Champion Stakes contenders also include the 2005 Arc and 2006 King George hero, Hurricane Run; the 2006 Vodafone Derby victor, Sir Percy, who landed the Darley Dewhurst Stakes on this day last year; the globe-trotting superstar mare Ouija Board, who has won six Group One races in England, Ireland, France, the USA and Hong Kong; this year’s fast finishing Arc runner-up, Pride, who was also runner-up in last year’s Emirates Airline Champion Stakes; one of the season’s top milers, Araafa, who could step up in trip for the first time having won both the Irish 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes, and Stan James 1000 Guineas runner-up and Prix de Dainae Hermes scorer Confidential Lady.
The Emirates Airline Champion Stakes heads the seven races on a superb programme that makes up Champions’ Day at Newmarket on Saturday, October 14.
The day also features the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes, for two-year-olds and worth £250,000.
Group Two action comes with the seven-furlong VC Bet Challenge Stakes and the ‘In The Pink' Rockfel Stakes over seven furlongs for two-year-old fillies, while the Group Three David Wilson Homes Jockey Club Cup over two miles and Group Three Unicorn Asset Management Darley Stakes over nine furlongs plus the hotly competitive £150,000 totesport Cesarewitch, the second leg of the Autumn Double, complete the card. Total prize money on Champions’ Day is over £1 million.
CARTIER RACING AWARDS UPDATE
RAIL LINK RACES INTO CARTIER LEAD
Rail Link steamed into the reckoning for Cartier Racing Awards recognition with his superb neck victory over Pride in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe Lucien Barriere at Longchamp on October 1.
Andre Fabre's charge powered to the top of the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt category, and is now a leading contender for the very prestigious Cartier Horse of the Year accolade, after registering his fifth consecutive success this year and his second at the highest level.
Rail Link's haul of 104 points places him just ahead of Budweiser Irish Derby and Baileys Irish Champion Stakes victor Dylan Thomas (100).
Challenging Rail Link and Dylan Thomas is the brilliant George Washington (96) who scored a stunning triumph over Araafa (78) in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on September 23.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien's crack miler, a thrilling winner of the first British Classic, the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, remains a strong contender for the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt award and could yet clinch the Cartier Horse of the Year honour.
Vodafone Derby victor Sir Percy, who has not raced since his Epsom Downs Classic victory in early June, has 72 points and would progress up the Cartier Three-Year-Old Colt table if successful in the Emirates Airline Champion Stakes at Newmarket on October 14.
The Cartier Racing Awards, European horseracing's equivalent of the Oscars, are now in their 16th year, and honour equine champions plus one person.
The coveted eight Cartier horse awards are determined by points earned in Pattern races combined with the opinions of a panel of racing journalists plus votes from readers of the Racing Post and The Daily Telegraph, a system which accurately rewards supreme excellence.
The awards are revealed and presented after the end of the 2006 Flat season at the Four Seasons Hotel in Mayfair, London, England, on Wednesday, November 15.
Holy Roman Emperor emerged in front in the race for the Cartier Two-Year-Old Colt prize with 96 points following his excellent win at Longchamp in the Group One Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere on October 1. That success came after a runner-up finish to Teofilo (48) in the Group One Laing O'Rourke National Stakes at the Curragh in September.
The juvenile male division is most competitive and trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Dutch Art (80) continued his bid for Cartier honours with a sparkling victory in the Group One Shadwell Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 29, with Wi Dud (44) two lengths away in second. The Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on October 14 could help decide matters.
The Cartier Two-Year-Old Fillies' award looks set to go to the wire with a clutch of exciting individuals in contention headed by the Jeremy Noseda-trained Meon Valley Stud Fillies' Mile winner Simply Perfect (58).
Indian Ink took her tally to 41 points after a fine success in the Group One Sky Bet Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket on September 29, while Moyglare Stud Stakes winner Miss Beatrix (40) is next best ahead of Finsceal Beo (32) who captured the Prix Marcel Boussac Royal Barriere de Deauville at Longchamp on October 1. Sander Camillo remains on 24 points.
Sergeant Cecil enhanced his claims for the Cartier Stayer award when enjoying a breathtaking triumph in the Group One Prix du Cadran Casino Les Princes Barriere de Cannes on October 1. Rod Millman's popular seven-year-old has 65 points and is currently second to Ascot Gold Cup victor Yeats on 76 points, but the votes from the panel of journalists and public could change the situation.
Dual classic-winning heroine Alexandrova (116) continues to set the pace in the Cartier Three-Year-Old Filly division, but saw her points lead cut at Longchamp on October 1, when eclipsed by Mandesha (96), owned by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, in the Prix de l'Opera Casino Barreire d'Enghien. The top five in the division also includes Group One winners Germance (64), Speciosa (62), and Nannina (59).
Hurricane Run (102) retains his standing as the number one for the Cartier Older Horse award despite only finishing fourth in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, while Pride, runner-up in the Longchamp showpiece, took her points tally to 80. Ouija Board (92) and Manduro (90) both remain in contention for the coveted award.
The Eric Alston-trained Reverence is currently second in the Cartier Older Horse category, and his 97 points keep the dual Group One winner at the head of the race to be crowned top Cartier Sprinter. His second in the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp Majestic Barriere on October 1 behind Desert Lord (38) reinforced his position. Les Arcs (64) and Amadeus Wolf (40) are in pursuit.
Harry Herbert, Cartier's racing consultant, commented today: "Anticipation is building following some stunning races in recent weeks. The competition for Cartier Racing Awards is intense and the excitement can only increase as we enter the final weeks of the season.
"The sport at Longchamp and Newmarket last week was superb, with brilliant displays from Rail Link, Holy Roman Emperor, Mandesha, Dutch Art, Indian Ink and Sergeant Cecil. And those horses have strengthened their claims to racing’s most prestigious awards.
"The Mile Championships at Ascot also produced fantastic displays, none more so than George Washington's imperious victory in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
"The ultimate accolade of Cartier Horse of the Year will be difficult to decide with so many superb performances to take into account, and it will be intriguing to see what happens at Newmarket on Champions' Day (October 14) and in the Breeders' Cup (November 4) at Churchill Downs, USA, when many of the leading contenders are likely to be in action."
CARTIER THREE-YEAR-OLD COLT
Rail Link 104
Dylan Thomas 100
George Washington 96
Stormy River 88