Shaquille set for racecourse spin ahead of possible Ascot date

By Sports Desk October 03, 2023

Shaquille’s participation on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot may rest on how he comes through a racecourse gallop next week.

Julie Camacho’s Commonwealth and July Cup winner ran no sort of a race when last seen in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, a performance which still has connections scratching their heads.

Having missed the break badly in both his Group One wins, he broke on terms on Merseyside only to be beaten by halfway.

Nothing has subsequently come to light, but should he continue to please on the gallops, then October 21 is likely to have a ring around it on the calendar.

“He’s fine, we’re just taking it one step at a time,” said Steve Brown, Camacho’s husband and assistant.

“He worked on Saturday and we were pleased with him, he’ll work again this week and the following week we’ll go away and have a racecourse gallop somewhere.

“Nothing is decided yet, that will be just to take him to a different environment and see how he handles it and to get him back on a racecourse, get the blood flowing a little bit and then we’ll see from there.”

Reflecting on Haydock, Brown added: “It’s disappointing that we haven’t found an absolute reason that he was so below form at Haydock but as I always say, sometimes you just don’t have an answer. We might like to think we do, but sometimes we just don’t.

“I’ve slightly taken the view that it was just too bad to be true unfortunately. Whilst we were all devastated on the day, the only thing we can do is regroup and look forward.”

Shaquille is one of 23 remaining in contention for the British Champions Sprint, for which last year’s winner Kinross is ante-post favourite following his near-miss in France on Sunday.

In the Champion Stakes, the progressive Horizon Dore heads the market with Coral with Bay Bridge, King Of Steel and Mostahdaf among the 16 contenders.

Paddington and Tahiyra headline 18 in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Free Wind, Time Lock and Via Sistina among 26 possibles in the Fillies & Mares.

Trueshan, Kyprios, Courage Mon Ami and Coltrane are all still among 17 in the Long Distance Cup.

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    Oisin Murphy still hopes to “one day” ride over hurdles – but following the abandonment of Wincanton on Thursday he has nothing lined up in the foreseeable future.

    The three-times champion Flat jockey was due to have his first spin over obstacles aboard the Cian Collins-trained Lets Do This in the Danny McNab Bookmakers “National Hunt” Novices’ Handicap Hurdle at the Somerset track.

    However, the fixture was called off following significant rain, with clerk of the course Daniel Cooper able to make a decision well ahead of the planned 8am inspection.

    As part of his Flat commitments, Murphy is due to head for a stint in America on December 22.

    “Unfortunately I don’t have any plans to ride over jumps after today. It will be difficult now with my schedule. One day!” said Murphy.

    Cooper is also clerk at Exeter, where Friday’s planned card fell victim to a waterlogged track.

    Sunday’s card at Huntingdon, which is scheduled to feature the Grade Two Peterborough Chase, is subject to a further precautionary inspection at 7.30am on Friday after passing an initial check on Thursday.

    Friday’s Sedgefield card and Saturday’s meeting at Wetherby have both been lost to waterlogging, with the British Horseracing Authority adding an additional all-weather card at Wolverhampton on Sunday.

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    A festive outing at Ascot is next on the agenda for Hansard following his coming-of-age victory at Newbury.

    A bumper winner in Ireland for Charles O’Brien, the five-year-old was subsequently snapped up for 48,000 to join Noel Fehily Racing Syndicates and was sent to Gary Moore.

    He won his first two starts over hurdles for his new connections last winter, finished fourth in a Grade One at Aintree in the spring and finished second to a race-fit Rubaud on his seasonal reappearance in the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton last month.

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    The race was frozen off last weekend at its usual home of Newcastle but swiftly rescheduled for Saturday’s Tingle Creek card.

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    The multiple Grade One winner was last seen planting himself at the start in the 1965 Chase at Ascot, and was denied a subsequent outing in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle on the Fighting Fifth card.

    “I’m really excited to be riding Shishkin and it is an honour to ride him,” said Bowen.

    “I didn’t know I was definitely on him until the declarations today as there was a chance I could have gone to Aintree, but it has ended up working out well for me.

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    Jonbon is odds-on for the Tingle Creek in which he will face four rivals – Boothill, Edwardstone, Haddex Des Obeaux and Nube Negra.

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