x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Michael Bell has Ascot and Jebel Hatta in plans for Wigmore Hall

Gelding's victory in Canada makes it five wins in as many countries and the cards falling in the right place for the trainer.

Wigmore Hall's next outing will be the inaugural Champions Stakes at Ascot, Michael Bell, the trainer, said yesterday after the gelding's last-gasp victory in Canada on Sunday night.

All the cards fell right for the four year old in the Grade 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes in Toronto for the first time since he scored in the Jebel Hatta at Meydan Racecourse in March. It was Wigmore Hall's fifth race in as many countries since beating Poet's Voice in that Group 2 contest.

Jamie Spencer, his jockey, played a patient hand and was sat in sixth of eight for much of the 12 furlong contest, hugging the rail along the sweeping bends of Woodbine.

Local challenger Simmard flew for home as the field turned into the two-furlong straight but Spencer waited a beat before launching a bid up the inside and held off the tiring Simmard and the fast-finishing Al Khali, who lost ground by coming up the middle of the track to finish third.

"The plan is the Champion Stakes at Ascot," Bell said. "He's done a fair bit of travelling since his win at Meydan and there are few races that offer over a million in prize money. We'll then give him a rest and get him ready for the Jebel Hatta again."

Bell also said he is targeting the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night with his York winner, Margot Did. The three-year-old daughter of the Australian sprinter Exceed and Excel won the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes last month and Bell believes Meydan would be perfect for her next March.

"We hope to have Margot Did ready for Meydan where the Al Quoz Sprint on grass would suit her," Bell said.

Mark Johnston was another trying to make plans yesterday after Fox Hunt, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, won the German St Leger in Dortmund.

Fox Hunt is entered in the Melbourne Cup on November 1, but Johnston was eager to avoid the situation that saw his Eastern Aria miss the cut last season.

"The win means that Fox Hunt is not excluded from the ballot, but he's still not guaranteed a run," Johnston said. "We won't go into quarantine until he is guaranteed a run as it would mean he would then miss both the Champions Day long distance race and the Breeders' Cup marathon, which are also among his targets."

Fox Hunt will have to enter quarantine on October 1, alongside stablemate Jukebox Jury.

sports@thenational.ae