Aldaary© Photo Healy Racing
William Haggas appears to have found Aldaary an excellent opportunity to open his account for the campaign in the Dubai Duty Free Cup at Newbury on Friday.
The winner of two valuable handicaps at Ascot in two weeks a couple of years ago, the five-year-old successfully stepped up to Listed class in the Spring Trophy at Haydock last season, but that proved to be his only competitive start in 2022.
He has failed to add to his tally since returning from over 400 days on the sidelines, but was unfortunate to bump into subsequent Grade One winner Master Of The Seas in the Summer Mile at Ascot in July and was last seen finishing fourth behind Paddington in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
Dropping down in trip and distance for this seven-furlong Listed event, Aldaary sets a high standard, although one of his biggest threats could prove to be his stablemate Al Mubhir, who has winning form in soft ground and was a big eyecatcher when eighth in the Golden Mile at Goodwood last month.
Haggas said: “They both love heavy ground and it has been a while since we’ve had heavy ground and there has been a race in which they can run.
“I didn’t have either of them in at Sandown this week because I didn’t think the ground would get that bad, but I had them both in at Newbury so they’ll both have to run, which is a shame.
“Aldaary is the best horse of the two but he really loves bottomless ground, it can’t be heavy enough, so I was a little bit disappointed with him against Paddington.
“Both of them want a mile really, but hopefully they’ll run a good race. I don’t really want to run them against each other, but they have biggish targets at the end of the year so they need a run to get back into the groove.”
Streets Of Gold was placed in the Surrey Stakes at Epsom and the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot during the summer, but failed to fire in the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket.
The three-year-old was subsequently gelded and his trainer Eve Johnson Houghton was encouraged by his comeback run when fifth in the Listed Hopeful Stakes last month.
She said: “I’m really happy with him and we’ll take a view on the ground. He won on soft ground last year, so we’ll think about it anyway.
“I was happy with his last run, really pleased, and I definitely think he’s come forward from that.”
Other contenders include Ralph Beckett’s course and distance winner Biggles and the consistent Popmaster from Ed Walker’s yard.
The Haynes, Hanson And Clark Novice Stakes is a race with a rich history, with equine greats such as Shergar (1980), Rainbow Quest (1983) and Nayef (2000) all featuring on the roll of honour.
Nayef, who subsequently won the Champion Stakes, Dubai Sheema Classic, Juddmonte International and Prince of Wales’s Stakes, is one of a record five previous winners of the race for trainer Marcus Tregoning, who is this year represented by Shadwell-owned newcomer Mufid.
Recalling Nayef’s debut win, Tregoning said: “We were pretty confident and in actual fact the reason we ran him in this race was because he was quite tricky in the stalls at home and I thought we might be better running in a conditions race rather than a maiden because there’d be less runners.
“He was a very good two-year-old, obviously, and went on to become a multiple Group One winner, so he was exceptionally good.”
It would be fanciful at this stage to suggest Mufid could go on to scale such lofty heights and Tregoning is just hoping for a positive performance in what will be testing conditions.
He added: “He’s by Lope De Vega, who has obviously had a very good year, and he’s out of a Sea The Stars mare, so he’s always given me the impression a mile will suit him really well.
“It’s his first run and we like him, but it’s a job to know (what to expect) when he’s running on heavy ground first time out.
“I hope he’ll run a nice race, but it’s a good race, as it always is. You’ve got horses in there with winning form on soft ground, but it will be particularly testing, I think.”
Roger Varian’s Defiance is a non-runner, but once-raced maiden winners Royal Supremacy (Andrew Balding) and Blue Lemons (Richard Hannon) take their chance, while King’s Gambit (Harry and Roger Charlton) won on his second start over the course and distance and also features.