x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Awzaan 'special' says Hills after Newmarket triumph

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid enjoys an outstanding day at Newmarket as his two-year-olds proved they will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid enjoyed an outstanding day at Newmarket yesterday as his two-year-olds proved they will be a force to be reckoned with next year. Awzaan headlined in the Group One Middle Park Stakes - a race sponsored by the Dubai owner's Shadwell Stud. Jockey Richard Hills, celebrating his ninth win from 19 rides, said more could be expected from the unbeaten, Mark Johnston-trained, colt.

"He's a special horse," he said. "He's got a fast cruising speed and he can really quicken. He's mature for his age and a super horse." Sheikh Hamdan's filly, Tabassum, placed herself firmly in the frame for next year's 1,000 Guineas with her seemingly effortless performance in the Group Three Sakhee Oh So Sharp Stakes, also for two-year-olds. Ridden by Hills and trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Tabassum won by four lengths.

"She's a tricky filly and not the easiest ride but she's brave," said Hills. "She's small but she's got a really good gallop." If Tabassum makes it to the Guineas next spring, she will doubtless encounter the new favourite for that classic, Special Duty, trained by French raider, Criquette Head-Maarek. And her impressive win in yesterday's Group One Cheveley Park Stakes franks the form of Sheikh Hamdan's Arcano, the colt that beat Special Duty by a neck in August's Prix Morny at Deauville.

Saeed Manana's Misheer, trained by Clive Brittain, was excellent in second place. Stoute recorded a double when Confront broke early to win the Group Three Nayef Joel Stakes. Godolphin's Rio De La Plata showed improvement in finishing second under Frankie Dettori. Today's action sees Sheikh Hamdan's Ghanaati, the 1,000 Guineas heroine, contest the Group One Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes. Trained by Barry Hills, she was a credible third at Glorious Goodwood. "Hopefully if she comes back to her best she'll take plenty of beating," said Angus Gold, Sheikh Hamdan's racing manager.

Out to spoil the party is Nashmiah, also trained by Brittain for owner Manana. stregoning@thenational.ae