Massaat defies year layoff to slam Hungerford rivals at Newbury

Sat 19 Aug 2017

Watch the closing stages of the Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury won by Massaat on Saturday.

_By staff _

Massaat defied a 373-day absence to win the Betfred Hungerford Stakes at Newbury.

Trainer Owen Burrows had warned in the build-up to the seven-furlong Group Two that last season's 2000 Guineas runner-up would be "rusty".

But the four-year-old son of Teofilo dazzled upon his return to the fray and ended up winning by a length and three-quarters from Librisa Breeze.

Nathra was third, another half a length in arrears.

Burrows said: "What a great surprise. He'd been working nicely, but I just thought he'd be rusty.

"Obviously it was seven furlongs and he was second in the Guineas.

"I was just looking to get him back on track and he's done it impressively.

"He had a chip removed from his fetlock after Salisbury then he injured himself and went back to Shadwell.

"It's been a big team effort to get him back.

"Fingers crossed he'll be fine after the race and we can plot then.

"We'd have to look at Group Ones now. He is entered on Champions Day (QEII Stakes), but I think it is important he has a bit of cut in the ground.

"I'm not saying he wants it soft but it was pretty firm at Salisbury when he injured himself so I'll certainly keep him away from that ground now."

Massaat had a chip removed from a fetlock after finishing last at Salisbury a year ago and then injured himself recuperating at Shadwell, owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's stud.

Jockey Jim Crowley said: "It was a great training performance to bring him back.

"He loved that slower ground, it's quite important to him.

"He was a little bit fresh and free early on but he saw the race out well."

Trainer Dean Ivory said of the runner-up: "He was squeezed for room and he lost a couple of lengths when we had to switch him. "His neck turned to come straight again and the winner has got first run on us.

"The horse deserves to win and we will get there, I hope.

"You have just got to ride him for a bit of luck but that didn't come our way."

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