Shalaa: won five times as a juvenile
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)
By David Milnes 11:40AM 29 SEP 2016
SHALAA, last year’s leading British-trained juvenile, will make his eagerly-awaited seasonal return in the Group 3 John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Following five successive wins during his two-year-old campaign, including two at the highest level, Shalaa had been considered a leading contender for Group 1 sprint honours this season, but he suffered a pelvic injury in April which has delayed his return to action.
Connections keep faith
Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Al Shaqab Racing, offered a positive bulletin about Shalaa earlier in the week and still holds big-race ambitions for the John Gosden-trained sprinter.
Herbert said: “Shalaa is all set and ready to roll. John is very pleased with him.
“It’s very exciting. He’s been out a long time but is in decent shape. His work has been good but he might be a bit ring-rusty. This is a prep before he heads to the big sprint on Champions Day.”
Shalaa, who is unpenalised for his Group 1 wins as a two-year-old, is rated at least 9lb superior to his nine rivals on Saturday. He has been installed as the 9-4 favourite with Coral and is as short as 7-4 with other firms.
Gosden pleased with Hobbs
Shalaa’s stablemate Jack Hobbs is also nearing a return to action, having been off the track since being pulled up in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in April.
Last year’s Irish Derby hero was subsequently found to have suffered a pelvic injury but connections are now eyeing a comeback in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on October 15.
The four-year-old was sent to Kempton for a racecourse gallop with stablemate Maverick Wave on Wednesday and Gosden said: “I was very pleased with the work, especially how Jack Hobbs finished off.
“He took a bit of time to get organised at first but was on top at the end.”
Jack Hobbs, who finished third in last year’s Champion Stakes, is a general 12-1 chance to triumph on Champions Day.