NAKHEEL HEADS MARK JOHNSTON’S STAN JAMES 2000 GUINEAS TEAM
Nakheel, trained by Mark Johnston, is “looking fantastic” and on course for a crack at the Stan James 2000 Guineas, the first Classic of the 2006 Flat season, run over the NatWest Rowley Mile at Newmarket on Saturday, May 6.
The Sadler’s Wells colt, rated a 25/1 chance by Stan James, won both starts as a two-year-old over a mile and followed his maiden win at Hamilton in September with an impressive four-length victory in the Listed Silver Tankard Stakes at Pontefract a month later, looking an exciting prospect for the future.
Mark Johnston revealed today: “Nakheel has wintered very well indeed. No final decision has been made on where he starts off yet, as I haven’t discussed the matter with Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum [Nakheel’s owner], but there’s no reason why he shouldn’t go for the Stan James 2000 Guineas, and I’m preparing him with that race in mind.
“He looks fantastic at the moment and probably would not have a prep run before the Guineas. Getting horses fit for the Guineas has never been a problem for us - we won the 2000 with Mr Baileys and the 1000 with Attraction first time up, so it’s not an issue.”
Johnston did sound a slight note of caution, stating that unlike his two previous Guineas winners, Nakheel has yet to encounter Group-race opposition.
The Middleham handler continued: “The others were Group winners at two years, so there is a case that he should maybe run in a Group race before the Guineas, rather than jumping straight into a Group One, but I don’t see where there’s a suitable race for him.
“He is bred for further than a mile, so there is an issue over the suitability of the trip, and he is in the Derby, but he does show us a lot of speed.
“The Stan James 2000 Guineas in itself is a great trial for the Derby, so there’s no reason why he can’t run at Newmarket with a view to running over further later on. He’s won on good to firm and good to soft so should handle any ground.”
The trainer also outlined plans for his other Stan James 2000 Guineas hopes, headed by Black Charmer, whose only success came in a maiden at Doncaster, but who acquitted himself well in Group races subsequently, including when a half-length third to Sir Percy in the seven-furlong Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on his final start.
“Black Charmer was a bit of a bridesmaid last year, but he’s actually my highest rated three-year-old, having been very consistent in Group races last season, so he has to be considered. I’m delighted with his progress and he’ll probably go for a trial first,” commented Johnston.
“Atlantic Waves is also a possible for the Guineas - he would have to have a run beforehand and he is a more typical Sadler’s Wells than Nakheel, and probably more likely to require further.
“He won very well on his debut at Leicester and I was slightly disappointed with his second run [fifth in a mile Group Three contest at Salisbury], but it was a muddling race and they all finished in a bunch.”
The final possible Stan James 2000 Guineas contender from the Johnston stable is Prince Of Light, successful in the Group Three Sirenia Stakes on Newmarket’s July Course in September before finishing fifth to Amadeus Wolf in the Group One Shadwell Stud Middle Park Stakes over six furlongs on the NatWest Rowley Mile course later in the same month.
Johnston added: “Prince Of Light is another who would go for a Guineas trial first before we make a decision on the big race.”
The trainer reported that he had no entries in this year’s Stan James 1000 Guineas, and that his filly Desert D’Argent, winner of both starts at two, had fractured a pedal-bone and would not be seen out until the middle of the year.
The Stan James Guineas Festival takes place on the NatWest Rowley Mile course at Newmarket on Saturday, May 6 and Sunday, May 7. Both the Stan James 1000 Guineas and the Stan James 2000 Guineas are worth a record £330,000 in 2006.
EBF - OVER £1 MILLION IN 2006
Latest confirmed allocations for the British EBF show that almost £900,000 in prize money and breeders’ prizes will be applied to the 2006 Flat Season.
A further £130,000 to the 2006/2007 National Hunt Season brings the total for the calendar year to well over £1 million.
This magnificent result is thanks to continued and sustained support from British-based stallion owners and from those who nominate yearlings/two-year- olds by stallions standing outside Europe.
William Whitelaw (later Viscount Whitelaw) described the EBF way back in 1983 as, “a splendid example of self help”.
That has proved a serious understatement! Entering its 23rd Flat Season, the British part of the EBF has provided almost £20 million in prize money and breeders’ prizes for British Racing.
David Brown, current Chairman of the British Trustees of the EBF, said today: “In such changing and difficult times for British racing, it is encouraging that the BEBF can continue its support at such a consistent level - this is great news for British racing and breeding.”
The facts for 2006:
Over 305 two-year-old EBF maiden races have been programmed.
This represents about 72% of all two-year-old maiden races.
BEBF Breeders’ Prizes are offered to breeders of the winners of all EBF races. These are valued at up to 15% of the Total Prize Fund for each race.
Every Flat racecourse in Great Britain will frame several of the EBF races.
TWO EUROPEAN BREEDERS’ FUND RACES ON SATURDAY, MARCH 11
We know that the Cheltenham Festival is uppermost in the minds of most followers of racing at this time of year. But don’t forget a smashing day’s racing at Sandown on Saturday, 11th March.
Yes, Sunderlands sponsor the Imperial Cup, a competitive betting heat. Sunderlands also jointly sponsor the “European Breeders’ Fund ‘National Hunt’ Novices Handicap Hurdle Race Final”, the culmination of 38 qualifying races run since October, 2005. This Grade 3 race is for 4/5/6 and 7-year- olds who have NOT run on the Flat, and who have finished in the first four in one of the qualifiers.
The race over 2 miles, 4.5 furlongs carries a Total Prize Fund of £60,000. Previous winners include CONTROL MAN, TANA RIVER, DIRECT ACCESS, MONTROE, SIR DANTE, etc.
Another fascinating race, so often submerged under the Cheltenham factor, is the European Breeders’ Fund’s Mares Only “Bumper” Final – jointly sponsored by Doncaster Bloodstock Sales. This Listed Race is for 4/5/6/and 7-year-old Fillies and Mares that have not run on the Flat, but have run in one of the twelve qualifiers (or, in the case of an abandonment, were declared to run). The Total Prize Fund is £25,000 and the Listed race is run over two miles and half a furlong. Previous winners or placed horses include AMORELLO, FUNNY TIMES, GULSHAN, MONGER LANE, SCARLET POPPY, etc.
Both the EBF races are programmed for jumping bred horses and form a very important part of the jumps season.