x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Watar is shaping into form but firm turf is a worry

Angus Gold, racing manager for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, is happy with Watar's form but hoping the turf at Longchamp for the Prix Maurice de Nieuil is not too firm.

Watar, above with Davy Bonilla aboard, looks to be in good form ahead of the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil at Longchamp.
Watar, above with Davy Bonilla aboard, looks to be in good form ahead of the Group 2 Prix Maurice de Nieuil at Longchamp.

Connections of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's horse Watar are hoping the ground is not too quick for the six year old at Longchamp in France tomorrow.

Watar is among a field of 13 declared for the Prix Maurice de Nieuil.

"The horse is in good form and I just hope the ground isn't too firm," said Angus Gold, the Minister of Finance's racing manager, ahead of the Group 2 race.

Meanwhile, Gold is hoping the Sheikh's sprinter Elzaam will be seen in a better light when he returns to a flat track.

The three year old, trained by Roger Varian, failed to win for the third time at Newmarket in England when only eighth to Dream Ahead in the July Cup.

Fourth in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot on his previous start, he could now be aimed at the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock on September 3.

"He's OK. Richard Hills [his jockey] feels strongly the horse doesn't like going down the Dip. He's never run well at Newmarket," Gold said.

"He's better on a flat track and coming from behind, so we'll have a think. He might go to Haydock in September for the Betfred sprint."

Meanwhile, Mark Johnston, the trainer for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, has held a tight grip on the Glasgow Stakes since its move to Hamilton Park and has another great chance with Malthouse in tomorrow's race.

Johnston has won the last four renewals with Boscobel, Captain Webb, Parthenon and Corsica, who finished third in the St Leger at Doncaster last year.

Malthouse has been extremely busy already this season, but horses trained by Johnston seem to handle plenty of runs better than those from other yards.

The three year old finished eighth behind Brown Panther at Royal Ascot last month and then chased home the smart Dominant at Newmarket before running with great credit on the same track last week in a race that looks sure to throw up plenty of winners.

He was placed fourth behind Fulgar and Mijhaar, two Group performers in waiting.

Meanwhile, Jamie Spencer is looking forward to the rest of the campaign with Cape Blanco after guiding him to victory in the Man O'War Stakes at Belmont Park over the weekend.

The Galileo colt, part-owned by Dubai's Fitriani Hay, was securing his third victory at the highest level when getting the better of proven top-class performer Gio Ponti, and a return to America for the Arlington Million could now be on the agenda.

"It worked out well. Everyone was happy with him and it was the first time this year everything has gone smoothly," Spencer told At The Races.

"He ran a very good race in the Dubai World Cup, and I think he was back to that form, if not better, at the weekend.

"Gio Ponti has won lots of big races over the years.

"He's won an Arlington Million and a couple of Man O'Wars, so you have to have a lot of respect for him.

"He's probably the best turf horse in America, so we knew it was going to be a tough race, but thankfully Cape Blanco came through.

"He's a high-class horse and he has a great will to win."

* Agencies