Fellowes trying to stay grounded with exciting Marbaan

Sun 31 Jul 2022

Charlie Fellowes is keeping options open for Marbaan, impressive winner of the Japan Racing Association Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on Tuesday.

The progressive colt came with a well-timed run under Jamie Spencer to land the Group Two contest and Fellowes is keen to keep the son of Oasis Dream at seven furlongs after giving him a break.

The Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster are the two most favoured options for Marbaan, winner of the last three of his four careers starts and who is as short as 20-1 with some bookmakers for next season’s 2000 Guineas.

Fellowes said: “I am trying to keep my feet on the ground with this one and didn’t quite make it to cloud nine.

“He has come through it really well and could not have taken it better. He has eaten everything since his run and trotted up perfectly the morning after.

“He had a couple of very easy days and had a very gentle hack canter on Friday morning. We will probably start building him up next week, I guess.”

The Newmarket handler is now planning to give the Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum-owned colt a little time off, following his half-length defeat of Chesham winner Holloway Boy.

“He has run four times already and there is no race for him for a while, so I think, as long as he will let me, I will give him as easy a time as I possibly can, just get some weight back on him and give him a bit of time to fill out and grow,” said Fellowes.

As for Marbaan’s two future targets, both of which are in September, he added: “I think we really have only two options – option one is to go and carry a penalty in the Champagne on a track that would really suit him – but you are carrying a penalty in a Group Two when you have already won a Group Two. What does it achieve?

“Alternatively, we go out to the National Stakes and take on the might of Aidan O’Brien and Joseph O’Brien and Donnacha O’Brien, and some other exceptionally good trainers, on their own turf.

“There is nothing really in France for him until the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere (on Arc weekend). The Curragh would really suit him. Seven (furlongs) is perfect and he’d love to get his toe in a little bit.

“If the National looked horrible and a couple of absolute worldies came out to run, then maybe we dodge it and we’d think about staying at Donny, and maybe then go to the Dewhurst or the Lagardere at the end of the year.

“It will probably between those two, but what a lovely, lovely problem to have.”

Marbaan has provided a fillip a yard that has been lighter than expected on numbers this season. The victory took Fellowes’ domestic tally to 18 winners, six fewer than at the same time last term.

He added: “The horses have run very consistently well all year, but we just don’t have the numbers that we thought we were going to have. We had the best year we have ever had last year – two Group winners, finished in the top 30 in owners’ prize-money and I thought we’d be starting this year with at least 90 in our yard.

“But, for whatever reason, that didn’t happen and we ended up with about 30 less than I was expecting to have, and we had a couple of really rather frustrating injuries through the first part of the year that put us on the back foot a little bit.”

There have also been some irritating near-misses. Grand Alliance was a prime case in point, he looked likely to provide Fellowes with a Royal Ascot winner before hanging and being denied a short head by Changingoftheguard in the King Edward VII Stakes.

“It has been a bit of a frustrating first part of the year, compounded by Grand Alliance throwing away that race at Royal Ascot. It is a funny game, racing,” added the 35-year-old.

“I think the two-year-olds are pretty smart, though. There are more where he came from – they may not quite as good as Marbaan is, but there are a few who would not be a million miles behind him. We are looking forward to them.”

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