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Richard Hills on Aqlaam, right, fought off a strong field in the Summer Miles Stakes at Ascot.
Richard Hills on Aqlaam, right, fought off a strong field in the Summer Miles Stakes at Ascot.

Aqlaam is back at helm

Aqlaam continues the Dubai dominance of the Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot in winning a race claimed last year by Mike de Kock's Archipenko.

Aqlaam yesterday continued the Dubai dominance of the totesport.com Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot in winning a race claimed last year by Mike de Kock's Archipenko. Owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Aqlaam, who finished third behind Richard Hannon's Paco Boy in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, reversed that contest's form in getting the better of then second-placed Cesare, an Ascot course specialist.

Ridden by Richard Hills and trained by William Haggas, Aqlaam held off challengers in tight quarters from both sides as he kept ahead of Sir Michael Stoute's Confront and de Kock's Imbongi. "He's a good horse," said Hills. "He's had a few injuries and it's taken a while to get him back to where we wanted him to be, but I wasn't worried about him making the running. That third at Royal Ascot was a good run but he's come on from that."

Cesare, who has won three times at Ascot, was disappointing in view of his second place in the Queen Anne Stakes and only managed fifth behind Dream Eater. Before the race de Kock, who trained the now-injured Archipenko to win this mile-long race in 2008, admitted a victory for Imbongi would signify a decisive step-up in form. He may have been encouraged by his jockey Kevin Shea's 31 per cent strike rate in England on his horses, but the pair had to be content with a very respectable performance for third.

Fresh from victory in his country debut in the Group Three John Bovington Criterion Stakes at Newmarket last month, Imbongi ran on well, keeping in touch with the first two, but could not quite match the rangy Aqlaam or Confront for pace at the finish. Godolphin scored a third in the first race on the card with Khor Dubai in the totescoop6 Stakes Heritage Handicap over seven furlongs. The colt came in behind the unlikely-named Surour and pre-race favourite, Secret Society, trained by Michael Bell.

The racing operation has now acquired the filly Long Lashes from the McElroy Syndicate and are expected to bring her to Dubai as a candidate for the UAE Guineas and the UAE Oaks in the new Meydan season. And the Australian sprinter, Takeover Target, was yesterday retired from racing by trainer Joe Janiak after sustaining a cracked cannon bone during his seventh-place finish in Sunday's July Cup. The first of the four-race series in Europe of the Festival of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed - the Zayed the First Cup - will be held at the Dutch Derby today.

The listed event is the first race for the Purebred to be staged at the century-old Duindigt racecourse. stregoning@thenational.ae

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