Coronation Cup winner Hukum may bypass a tilt at defending his Group One crown at Epsom in early June as trainer Owen Burrows eyes Royal Ascot and ultimately the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe for his stable star.
A hind leg injury ended Hukum's campaign early last term and a return to racing was not certain initially, but the full brother to Baaeed underwent a successful operation and subsequent rehabilitation process.
Burrows reports that Hukum has now been back with him at his Lambourn base for a prolonged spell ahead of the new campaign.
“He’s been back with me quite a while now, he’s just started easy, half-speed work," the trainer said.
“I was speaking to Angus (Gold, Shadwell racing manager) about a month ago about whether we’d be brave enough to go back to Epsom first time out but we’re probably not.
“We’ll probably have a prep run somewhere in May, with a view to the main target being the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and then the races are all pretty mapped out for him.
“The good thing with him is that he’s shown a preference for going on soft ground, so it’s lovely to think he’d be turning up in France in October. That (Arc) would be the main aim, so he’s got more of a second (half of the) season plan.
“He’s rehabbed well and Sheikha Hissa was quite keen to give him another chance. I felt he’d only just really hit a peak, it was impressive what he did at Epsom and I felt he ran a big race in the Sheema Classic considering things didn’t really pan out for him (seventh of 15) – he was only beaten a length and three-quarters.
“If he can continue in that sort of form, then we should have a lot of fun with him this year.”
Burrows is also eyeing the top level for Group Two scorer and the ever-improving Anmaat.
The Shadwell-owned five-year-old has placed in each of his 10 starts, with six victories including an impressive treble that spanned last season.
Starting his campaign with a half-length success in the John Smith’s Cup at York, the bay then left handicapping behind to land the Group Three Rose Of Lancaster Stakes by four lengths at Haydock in August.
He signed off 2022 with a step up to Group Two class at ParisLongchamp in October, winning the Prix Dollar by a head.
Anmaat holds an entry for the Group One Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh in May, but a trip across the Channel to Longchamp is under consideration again as he will also be pencilled in for the Prix Ganay and the Prix d’Ispahan.
Burrows said: “He’s good, he’s in strong work. I’ve made an entry for him in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and he’ll also have an entry for those two Group races in France – the Ganay and the Prix d’Ispahan. One is at the end of April and one’s at the end of May.
“We’re very pleased with him, fingers crossed we can get him out a bit earlier this year.
“You’ve got Group Threes at Sandown – the Gordon Richards and the Brigadier Gerard – but he’d have a Group Two penalty in those, so I think if we’re happy and he’s showing all the right signs at home, then why not have a crack?
“He was able to win the John Smith’s first time out last year, so he’s a horse we’d like to think we can get ready first time.”
Burrows also provided an update on Alflaila, who scored a hat-trick of Listed and Group Three victories at the end of last season before sustaining a fracture to his left fetlock.
The injury ruled him out of a Bahrain run in November, but he is making strides in his recovery and is expected back at Burrows’ base in the next few weeks.
“Alflaila is still back at Shadwell, I had an update a few weeks ago and he was back cantering,” he said.
“I’m hoping he’ll be back with me next week or the week after at the latest.
“Touch wood, everything’s going very well, he’s been back cantering for about three weeks and they’re very happy with how he’s healed.”Win hospitality for two to Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials Weekend on Saturday 22 April! Click here for more details.
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