Hannon looking to Haatem for Vintage celebration

By Sports Desk July 31, 2023

Stars of the future have invariably cut their teeth in the Nicholson Gin Vintage Stakes and Haatem will be out to justify Richard Hannon’s faith in a strong renewal at Goodwood on Tuesday.

A close-up fifth to River Tiber in the Coventry at Royal Ascot, he then bumped into another smart Aidan O’Brien colt when stepped up to seven furlongs in the Superlative at Newmarket.

City Of Troy catapulted to the head of next season’s 2000 Guineas market following that six-and-a-half-length success over Haatem.

Hannon feels the easier surface he is expected to face at Goodwood could play to the strengths of the Phoenix Of Spain colt in the Group Two contest.

He said: “He keeps bumping into those O’Brien horses and I think he has a very good chance.

“If it is soft ground, I think he’ll like it. He showed he can handle good to soft at Newmarket. I like his chance at Goodwood.

“He ran well behind in the Superlative and he ran well in the Coventry, and he’s done everything we’ve asked of him, so it would be good to see him produce what we think he’s capable of tomorrow.”

Hannon is double-handed in the race with Son and added: “He ran all right in the Superlative (fifth), but this looks a tougher spot for him and you wouldn’t be too confident in such a competitive race.”

Haatem, who will be ridden by Sean Levey, is the most experienced of the nine runners in the seven-furlong juvenile contest with five runs already under his belt.

Iberian and Witness Stand are the least experienced having won on their respective debuts for Charlie Hills and Tom Clover.

Iberian looked potentially smart when he scored with ease – beating a couple of subsequent winners – over an extended six furlongs in a Newbury novice.

Richard Ryan, racing manager for Teme Valley, who co-own the Lope De Vega colt with Ballylinch Stud, said: “It’s a considerably large step up in class. We’re hopeful we have a nice horse and this race will answer a lot of questions.

“The form (of his Newbury win) I suppose is a mixed bag from those behind, but you can only beat what’s with you and he sort of put them to bed quite convincingly. He seems to have thrived since and we are hopeful.

“He is an impressive horse at home and Charlie is having a great season with his two-year-olds. He looks to have a number of promising horses, so we are in the slightly excited camp until proven otherwise.”

Iberian missed the Superlative at Newmarket when withdrawn because of soft ground.

Ryan added: “It was a tough decision. The ground was quite chewed and it was getting loose and wet and a bit used at the time.

“Although it is probably going to be wet at Goodwood, it’s unwatered and well maintained for this meeting, and probably with it being the first day, it won’t have the same issues the July Course had at the time with conditions in the pouring rain.”

Frankie Dettori, riding at his last Goodwood Festival, will partner the Richard Fahey-trained Golden Mind, winner of a Leicester six-furlong maiden in May, before going down by three-quarters of a length in the Chesham at Royal Ascot.

The Musley Bank handler feels Dettori’s experience could help the colt’s development.

He said: “He’s a horse that is improving the whole time, he’s a bit of a laid-back character and with racing he’s going to get better.

“He’s a slow-learning horse who will improve with racing and he’s getting stronger as well.

“He’s in good order and I would love Frankie to ride me a winner before he retires, he’s a legend. It would be fantastic if he could and it would be great if it could be this one.”

A Norfolk Stakes fifth on his penultimate start, Amo Racing’s Thunder Blue was subsequently back up to six furlongs at Newmarket, where he was fourth to Jasour in the Group Two July Stakes.

His sole success in four starts came on his second run, when landing a novice at the Sussex Downs track.

“He is a Goodwood winner over six furlongs and although he has plenty of tactical speed, we just feel he would be better suited by stepping up to seven,” said trainer Dominic Ffrench Davis.

“He will be able to get a tow into the race.

“He jumped a bit sharp at Ascot and he probably got racing a bit early at Newmarket also, so hopefully at Goodwood he can get a lead and then produce a turn of foot at the end of the race.

“He was very good when he won there and it turned out to be not a bad race. The runner-up got the job done well enough next time and I think it was a strong enough contest. We’ve always thought he was very good and I think seven furlongs may just play to his strengths.

“We wouldn’t want too much rain as that might make it too much of a test of stamina, but I think if it is good to soft it would be perfect for him.”

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