Geoffrey Freer Stakes: Royal Ascot winner Hukum tests deeper waters

Fri 14 Aug 2020

Royal Ascot hero Hukum tests the water at Group Three level in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

Third on his debut at the Berkshire circuit last September, the Owen Burrows-trained colt rounded off his juvenile campaign with a victory at Kempton and was then not seen again until the showpiece meeting in June.

The Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt defied his lengthy absence with a narrow verdict in the King George V Stakes, and Burrows is looking forward to seeing how he fares in better company.

He said: “We’ve been happy with Hukum, and Jim Crowley sat on him last Wednesday and he was happy with him. We are looking forward to getting him back on track.

“He got struck into at Ascot, and he had some stitches put in – the vets have done a great job with him. He has had a bit of time off to give the leg time to heal. He won first time up at Ascot after a break, so having the time off doesn’t worry me.

“He is going up in trip – but he was strong at the end of his race at Ascot and was going away again at the line, so that should be fine.

“We will see what happens on Saturday regarding the St Leger – if it all goes well we will have the conversation with Sheikh Hamdan and see what he wants to do.”

The Alan King-trained Tritonic was narrowly beaten at the Royal meeting – going down by half a length to the high-class Highland Chief in the Golden Gates Handicap.

Tritonic has since proved no match for Subjectivist in the Glasgow Stakes at Hamilton, but was clear of the remainder.

King said: “Obviously it’s a big step up in class for him, but he has run well in both starts this year. He is very much still on a learning curve, and Saturday will give us a fair idea of where we will go with him.

“I think the step up in trip will suit. We did consider going to York with him next week, for the Melrose, but it could well be a massive field and it wouldn’t be easy if he had a bad draw. We just felt the race at Newbury was worth having a crack at.”

Mark Johnston’s Communique, Andrew Balding’s Morando and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Sextant are all contenders with winning form at Newbury.

Stoute also saddles Alignak, while Ralph Beckett’s Max Vega completes the field.

The Listed Denford Stakes has seen a significant non runner in the shape of John Gosden's Guru, with the likely favourite being taken out due to ground conditions.

Six still feature, including Charlie Appleby's Newmarket victor Dhahabi, Eve Johnson Houghton's Ascot winner Jumby and narrow Salisbury scorer Francesco Guardi, trained by James Ferguson.

Ferguson said: "It looks a good race, probably a better renewal than we've seen in recent years. We're still quite inexperienced after only one run, but that goes for a few horses in the race.

"I think my horse has come on since Salisbury, I'm very happy with him and we're hoping for a big run.

"He won on fast ground and I think he might even benefit from a bit of cut, so I'm not too fazed about ground conditions."

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