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12 Dec 2017
Issue Number: Issue 627
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Defoe & Massaat share Newbury limelight

25/09/2017
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Jockey Andrea Atzeni has ridden two of the last three St Legers winners and was impressed by Defoe who trialled for the final Classic of the UK season with a cosy victory in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury. Trained by Roger Varian and owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, Defoe, a 3yo son of Dalakhani, was registering his fourth straight success to remain unbeaten in 2017.

Atzeni said: “Defoe would not be a flashy horse, just like Kingston Hill on whom I won the Leger in 2014 for Roger. He used to do it on the track, which is the main thing and this fellow is the same, though I’d say this horse would be better but, like Kingston Hill, he’ll be better as a 4yo.” Owen Burrows spent 13 seasons with Sir Michael Stoute and it appears some of the master trainer’s patience has rubbed off on his former protege after Massaat bounced back in style in the £150,000 7f Group 2 Hungerford Stakes.

Second in last year’s 2000 Guineas, Massaat had been off for more than a year after a disappointing effort in the Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury. Ridden here by the horse’s owner and breeder Sheikh Hamdan’s retained rider Jim Crowley, he bolted up to the surprise of his trainer. “It’s a massive relief and nice to get him back on track,” said Burrows, a former conditional jockey with Martin Pipe. “He had a chip taken out of his fetlock after Salisbury last year, then injured himself again when he was back at Shadwell; he kicked a wall and it’s been a big team effort.

“We had him back in May and it’s taken three months to get him fit, but you can’t rush them or force it.” It was a great day for UAE owners with the big juvenile race, the 7f Listed Denford Stakes, better known as the Washington Singer, won by Hey Gaman in the colours of Sultan Ali. The 2yo son of New Approach kept finding for Martin Harley, running into a strong headwind and trainer James Tate was impressed: “It was tough going and he made it even harder for himself by not sitting in behind Another Batt,” said the trainer.

“The ground is key to him and I’d always be looking for going with ‘soft’ in the description. “Any 7f Group race would be the obvious aim and I think the Champagne at Doncaster would suit him best. We can then aim at the Dewhurst with this one if all goes well.” The afternoon began with the Purebred Arabian 5f Group 3 Royal Cavalry of Oman Clarendon Stakes which proved a family affair with Swedish professional jockey Anna Pilroth and her trainer mother Bodil Blomqvist celebrating in the winner’s enclosure after Macallan landed the spoils. A delighted Pilroth said: “He likes soft ground and I was looking forward to riding him over 5f because he is better over shorter distances, so it is a relief it all worked out.

“The course here is lovely, I like the undulations, you need a good horse and you need to think a little bit and plan your race.” Genny Hayes, director of the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO), added: “We are delighted for Anna and her mother who have been rewarded for their campaign with Macallan, racing him in England for the third time in three weeks. He is clearly a tough horse. “We also thank the Royal Cavalry for their continued sponsorship of this race and look forward to their annual Sultanate of Oman Raceday at Windsor.”

He may be Scottish but Jimmy Long is a very familiar face at UAE racecourses and his Thistle Bloodstock colours were carried to victory by apprentice Rowan Scott twice on the previous afternoon. Trained by Pat Shanahan, Set In Stone and Fivehundredmiles, both homebred, won handicaps over a mile and 1m1f respectively. “When the rain came we really did think Set In Stone would win,” said Long, a UAE-based businessman.

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