Shadwell eyes British champion status for Sheikha Hissa's Mostahdaf in Ascot showpiece

The son of Frankel bids to capture a third Group 1 victory of the season at England's royal racecourse

By Leslie Wilson Jr.

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Mostahdaf ridden by Jim Crowley wins the Prince of Wales's Stakes. Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. - Reuters File
Mostahdaf ridden by Jim Crowley wins the Prince of Wales's Stakes. Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot. - Reuters File

Published: Fri 20 Oct 2023, 10:50 PM

It has been 19 years since the late Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s Shadwell racing stable last won the £1.2 million British Champions Stakes, the final middle-distance showdown of the British flat racing season, and now Mostahdaf will hope to reclaim the prize in Saturday’s renewal of the prestigious 2,000-metre contest at Ascot racecourse.

Trained by John and Thady Gosden for Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan Al Maktoum, who has inherited the valuable breeding empire established by her father Sheikh Hamdan, Mostahdaf was ridden to victory by Frankie Dettori in the Juddmonte International at York on his last start.

Jim Crowley, who was suspended at the time, is back for a race that has been moved to the inner course which has taken quite a battering by the weather Gods this week.

“John Gosden and I will walk the course in the morning. We’re very keen to run, it’s not his favoured surface, we know that, but we’ve got to make sure it’s not too soft,” Angus Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager said in the Sportinglife.

“I realise there are other people who disagree, but from our point of view switching the courses has to help and from the race’s point of view, as a spectacle, you want the best horses so to attract them you have to run it on the best ground possible. I don’t think the soft-ground horses will be inconvenienced anyway.

“We’d be lying if we thought he’d do what he did in Saudi (won by seven lengths) and since then he’s won the two top 10-furlong races on the calendar,” Gold added.

“It was probably our fault he hadn’t been able to show how good he was. He did only lose once at three, but we tried stretching him out to a mile and a half (last year). Clearly, 10 furlongs is his trip.”

Returning champion

Mostahdaf faces eight rivals on Saturday including last year’s winner Bay Bridge who was a creditable sixth on his last start in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.

Assistant trainer James Savage said: “We’ve been very pleased with how Bay Bridge came out of the Arc, which was a tough race on ground that dried out throughout the day. He’s been working well since and he’s in good order.

“We’ve been waiting for this all year, he’d have a great shout.”

Horizon Dore, a French three-year-old who is making his Group 1 debut after winning the Prix Dollar on Arc weekend, is riding a four-wing streak.

The gelding is trained by Patrice Cottier and

Pauline Chehboub, the manager of the colt’s part-owners Le Haras De La Gousserie, told Sky Sports Racing: “He is doing well, he is in good form with some freshness. The trainer is very happy with him and we can’t wait to watch him on the track again.

“He is stronger than at the start of the season and now it’s time to travel and see him at Group One level.”

Boughey banks on Via Sistina

George Boughey, who has sampled some big wins during the Dubai World Cup Carnival, saddles Via Sistina and said:

“She looks amazing for this time of year and her best performances come after a break, which she’s had since Deauville two months ago.”

Following on from iconic races like the Epsom Derby and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes the Champion Stakes is the final showdown in the British Champions Series Middle Distance category.

Saturday's card features five Group races including four at Group 1 level.

At A Glance

What: British Champion Stakes (G1)

When/ where: Saturday, Ascot Racecourse

First running: 1877

Distance: 1m 2f (2,012 metres)

Purse: £1,278,210

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