x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Youmzain fit after long season

The King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes will be his 21st consecutive Group 1 race. That is seven more contested in total by his six rivals.

Youmzain, owned by Jaber Abdullah, will race in his 21st consecutive Group 1 race today.
Youmzain, owned by Jaber Abdullah, will race in his 21st consecutive Group 1 race today.

ASCOT, England // Youmzain is "thriving" ahead of an anticipated big run in this afternoon's King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, according to his racing manager, Bruce Raymond. The thoroughbred, owned by Jaber Abdullah, a UAE businessman, has finished second and third previously in the all-age event at the Berkshire track. The one mile, four furlong contest will be Youmzain's 21st consecutive Group 1 race. That is seven more contested in total by his six rivals, which include the English and Irish Derby winners Workforce and Cape Blanco respectively.

Youmzain has not been in the best form this year, and may have been feeling the effects of a long campaign. Trained by Mick Channon, Youmzain ran six times last season, beginning with a fourth-place effort in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March, and culminating in a run in 10th behind today's rival Daryakana in the Hong Kong Vase at Sha Tin in December. He finished a lacklustre eighth behind Dar Re Mi, another of today's runners, in the Sheema Classic at Meydan four months ago.

"He didn't like anything about Hong Kong," Raymond said. "He didn't race well there, he didn't train well and it was probably the wrong time of year for him. "He usually runs well in Dubai, but as a consequence of Hong Kong, he didn't train well there either until a week before the Sheema Classic, which was too late." Richard Hughes, the jockey, was on board when the seven-year-old last triumphed, winning the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud in 2008. And Hughes almost repeated the trick last month when losing out in a bobbing finish to the French filly Plumania in France. "It has taken him a long time to come right, and we thought he was right in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, and then again at St Cloud last month," Raymond said.

"He looks better now, and has really thrived. I think Richard Hughes will suit him really well, as you need to ride him with the foot on the brake. He has great acceleration, so you disappoint him, and don't let him go until really late when he picks up for a very quick, short run." Workforce won the Derby at Epsom in record time, eclipsing Lamtarra's 1995 record by the best part of a second. Sir Michael Stoute's charge, along with his stablemate, Harbinger, are the horses that Raymond fears most. "Youmzain goes to Ascot with a great chance though, and I suppose that's the only way we should look at it," he said.

Mawatheeq, the five-year-old owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, was ruled out of the race as it is too soon following an injury. @Email:sports@thenational.ae