King of the sprints Muhaarar
Muhaarar put up a highly impressive performance to take the Group One QIPCO British Champions Sprint Stakes by two lengths from Twilight Son.
Trained by Charlie Hills, ridden by Paul Hanagan and owned by Hamdan al Maktoum, three-year-old Muhaarar started the 5/2 favourite. It was his fourth successive Group One success after the Commonwealth Cup (also at Ascot), the July Cup and the Prix Maurice De Gheest, his latest run 69 days ago.
Sheikh Hamdan bred Muhaarar, who is likely now to retire to his owner’s Shadwell Stud in Norfolk.
“We had been thinking of America [the Breeders’ Cup meeting later this month] but whereas European sprinters race in a straight line, in America they go round a bend and that tends to slow the Europeans up, and at Keeneland it is one furlong and then turn and turn,” he said.
“Muhaarar had three Group One races in six weeks and then we decided to give him a break to go for this race. It’s a special day for the horses and the crowd and we wanted him to be here.”
Charlie Hills said: “He’s been very straightforward. He certainly has the will to win and he’s got a beautiful temperament and great looks. He’s gone a little bit in his coat in the past two days but I think that was a career best.
“He’s improved with each run this year. I gather no three-year-old has won four consecutive Group Ones [sprints] since 1980.
“Winning at Royal Ascot was very special, but he was against the older horses today, some of the very best around, and he did it very comfortably. Obviously, I’d love to keep him in training, but he’ll be a very valuable stud prospect and it’s up to Sheikh Hamdan.”
Hanagan, who has partnered Muhaarar in three of the colt’s Group One wins this season, said: “He’s been fantastic and, for me, he’s just got better and better since we have dropped him back to sprint distances and he’s really grown up as well.
“The horse next to me reared up in stalls and nearly went over and he just looked over and just flicked his eyelids; it didn’t bother him at all – he’s grown up a hell of a lot.
“I just tried to keep it as simple as I could. Maybe I got him there far too early but he doesn’t pull up in front. I got there with about a furlong and half and for me today he was much better at getting his toe in to the ground.”
“When you ride him, you just have so much faith in him and I know he is by far one of the best horses I have ridden. When you ride something like him, you are always pretty confident. He is special, especially on this ground, it would take a very, very good horse to beat him.”
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