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12 Dec 2017
Issue Number: Issue 627
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Nothing shabby about Shabaaby

25/09/2017
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DONCASTER’S four day St Leger meeting kicked off 12 days ago with a 6f juvenile novice event and one of the easiest winners of the fixture in the shape of Sheikh Hamdan’s Shabaaby. Trained by Owen Burrows, the son of Kyllachy may only have beaten three rivals but he could not have been more impressive under Jim Crowley. Third to subsequent Group winners Nyaleti and Billesdon Brook on his debut at Salisbury, he then trotted up at Newmarket before taking another step forward here with a seven length success.

Burrows said: “I must admit I was a bit disappointed after he was beaten first time but you never know what you come up against. He is improving all the time but is still a shell of a horse and is going to be one to look forward to next year. “We were thinking of calling it a day after this; he doesn’t have any big race entries, but he clearly goes on the soft so we’ll see. We’ll talk things over with the team before deciding. We’ll stick to 6f with him for the present.” Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum has a lovely string of horses, including Mount Logan, saddled by his primary trainer, Roger Varian and ridden to victory, in the same 1m2f conditions race he won last year, by his retained jockey, Andrea Atzeni.

Mount Logan, a 6yo gelded son of New Approach, appreciated the soft ground and Atzeni said: “He loved the ground and the track, I think a flat track really suits him and it was cosy in the end.” Varian was completing a double, initiated by Silvestre Sousa aboard Lahore, who could not have been more impressive, in a 7f handicap for Prince A A Faisal who retains the Champion Jockey elect. The jockey was also celebrating a brace having earlier combined with Simon Crisford to snare a 7f nursery courtesy of Nobleman’s Nest. Homebred by Poilin Good and a juvenile son of Poet’s Voice, he disappointed bitterly when last in the Gimcrack Stakes at York on his previous start.

His trainer said: “Nothing came to light after his run at York, he was beaten after 2f. I fancied him to win today and he did it nicely as he travelled well and put it to bed in a matter of strides. “He might go for a Listed race now or we might go for another nursery, we’ll see how the handicapper treats him.” The official feature was the Listed Scarborough Stakes, a 5f dash, won by Encore D’Or, held up in rear by Ryan Moore before charging home for Robert Cowell whose assistant, Greg Chung, said: “I’m absolutely delighted. Ryan spoke to Robert and they decided on their strategy and Ryan did everything he said he was going to do, so it worked out well.”

The ‘Leger Legends’ race is always a popular attraction with, this year, 14 retired jockeys pulling their breeches back on. It was Brian Harding, a big name in National Hunt circles who only quit the saddle as recently as April, and Off Art, winless since June 2013, who landed the spoils for Tim Easterby. Harding, presented his trophy by Lester Piggott, said: “It was really good fun and all the work that Dale Gibson puts in to organise everything and raise the funds for charity is fantastic.” Easterby and Harding are old allies who teamed up with dozens of winners over jumps through the years.

The trainer added: “When I saw who was riding there was only one man I wanted and it was Brian. He is still a good jockey. I know this was a one off but he had it all worked out, where to go, who to track and though he had to start pushing a bit earlier than he expected, he saved a bit for the finish. I’m delighted for him. “We were thinking of retiring Off Art; he has had serious problems with his feet but he’s come down the ratings and what a difference it makes.”

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