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Mitbaahy heads Hills’ hunt for Jubilee repeat

Mitbaahy heads Hills’ hunt for Jubilee repeat
Mitbaahy heads Hills’ hunt for Jubilee repeat

Recent Curragh scorer Mitbaahy and defending champion Khaadem give trainer Charlie Hills a strong hand in his bid for back-to-back victories in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Mitbaahy emerged as a major contender for the six-furlong Group One when landing the Greenlands Stakes in Ireland last month, form which was well advertised earlier in the week when the runner-up Regional found only Australian raider Asfoora too strong in the King Charles III Stakes.

Khaadem, who like Mitbaahy carries the colours of owner Fitri Hay, was a shock 80-1 winner 12 months ago – but while he has failed to trouble the judge in four starts since, most recently finishing down the field in the Duke of York Stakes, Hills would not be surprised to see him bounce back on Saturday.

“Khaadem hasn’t really had his conditions since last year. He loves fast ground, every time we’ve run him since it’s been soft and he loves it rattling,” said Hills.

“It wasn’t really a shock to us last year. He’s won some very good races during his career, including a Stewards’ Cup and a King George at Goodwood and a Palace House at Newmarket, so he’s certainly got it in his locker when he gets his ground.

“Mitbaahy seems to be improving at the moment, I was delighted with his last win and he’s been as good as gold really since then. I’m very happy with him.

“He beat a couple of Group One horses in Ireland and I think Ascot should suit him well as he obviously got the stiff six well at the Curragh.”

Mill Stream (right) winning the Duke of York Stakes
Mill Stream (right) winning the Duke of York Stakes (Mike Egerton/PA)

The two at the top of the market for the last of eight Qipco British Champions Series races at Royal Ascot are Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Duke of York winner Mill Stream and the Ralph Beckett-trained Kinross, who is set for his first outing since finishing second on Champions Day in October.

Mill Stream is ridden by William Buick, who said: “He did well to win (at York) I thought. It was a messy race and he should have won by further.

“Ascot’s going to suit him, and I think the sprint division is open at the moment. If you can mark up his Duke of York performance he’s in with a shout, definitely.”

Beckett said of his stable star: “Kinross is in good form and he’s ready to run. He ran a bit fresh and saw a bit too much daylight when he was seventh a year ago, so we’ll be holding on to him longer and riding him to finish.

“Hopefully he’ll be competitive, but it’s a difficult one as it’s really all about the second half of the year.”

Shartash is two from two since joining Archie Watson and has been snapped up by prominent owners Wathnan Racing since his most recent triumph in the Listed Spring Trophy at Haydock.

Richard Brown, racing adviser to the Qatar-based operation, said: “Shartash was a very good two-year-old and obviously won the Railway Stakes and then as can happen, he lost his way a little bit at three.

“He’s ended up with Archie Watson who has gelded him and I think that has been the making of him. He has won twice this year at seven (furlongs), but I think he will be at his best at the six-and-a-half point, so I think the stiff six at Ascot will be perfect for him.

“It’s obviously a big step up in class and we will find out if he is up to this level. We hope he is but until you run them in Group Ones you don’t know.

“It will be a very hard race to win, but we are hoping he’s improving and he’s among a group of horses who could step up to that level.”

Charlie Fellowes has high hopes for The Wizard Of Eye
Charlie Fellowes has high hopes for The Wizard Of Eye (Nigel French/PA)

Other hopefuls include George Boughey’s Believing, who has been declared to run just four days after finishing a close-up fourth in the King Charles III Stakes, and The Wizard Of Eye, who made a winning stable debut for Charlie Fellowes in the Victoria Cup here last month and now steps up to the highest level in the hands of Ryan Moore.

“We’re dropping back from seven furlongs to six and I’ve got no idea if he’s got the speed for it,” said Fellowes.

“In all his work at home he looks very quick, but we’re stepping up into Group One company and dropping back in trip, so there’s a few questions to answer, but we’ve got the best jockey in the world on board and I’m really happy with him – he’s in great condition.

“I wouldn’t mind a bit of rain. I’m not really fussed what the ground is like as it was very quick when he won the Victoria Cup, but rain wouldn’t be an issue, and we’re looking forward to it.”

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