HIS TRAINER Mike de Kock had expressed positive thoughts about Al Muthana prior to the 1600m Grade 1 Gold Challenge at Greyville and he was proven right having said that he expected the homebred 4yo Deep Field gelding to ‘trouble the more fancied runners’. De Kock said: “Al Muthana was sick a few days after his somewhat disappointing effort in April’s Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes, but following a short rest and full recovery he was considered back to his best in recent weeks.

“His illness after the Horse Chestnut probably explained his lacklustre run and he’s really come well recently. He’ll be a Durban July contender now and I’m hoping we can find a jockey.” Al Muthana was widest of all when the powerful Gold Challenge field swung for home. That’s where he stayed and he won in style.

Jockey Richard Fourie, who rode his seventh Grade One winner for the season and is dead set on at least one more to better Jeff Lloyd’s record, said he felt a lot of horse under him going up the hill before the bend. He had intentionally taken the wide route and kept Al Muthana out of the trouble a few others ran into.

“He won full of running,” said Fourie, who accepted the ride earlier in the week after he was impressed with Al Muthana’s prep gallop. “I begged for the ride.” A 4yo Shadwell homebred half-brother to Grade Two winner Wawail, Al Muthana has now won seven races with three places from 14 starts for earnings of R1,419,875.