Friday 23 March 2018

Hills certain Awzaan sticks out a mile

Richard Hills will be riding Awzaan. Photo: Getty Images
Richard Hills will be riding Awzaan. Photo: Getty Images

Nick Robson

JOCKEY Richard Hills has no doubts about Awzaan's ability to stay a mile ahead of English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

The rider has only won the colts' Classic once in his career, on Haafhd in 2004 for his father Barry. But in Mark Johnston's unbeaten youngster, he believes he has the perfect candidate.

"Whether he gets beyond a mile we're not sure, but one thing we are sure about is that he will get a mile well," said Hills. "I think you have to look at these races on the day but normally there is a pretty good gallop, especially at Newmarket.

"Without a doubt he is good enough to win a Guineas. He's unbeaten, he's won a Group One, he looks great and gave me a good feel when I went down to Mark's to ride him. For me, I can't be out of the first four."

Harry Findlay is better known as an owner in the jumps sphere through the exploits of Denman, but he has a live candidate in the John Best-trained Inler.

"I think there is a lot of hype involved, but that is just the way it worked out as we had a touch with him first time out," said Findlay.

"The price is a bit short considering what he has got to do, especially when you consider what sort of preparation he's had, missing his prep run.

"He's taking on horses like Elusive Pimpernel which really stay a mile and are proper 10-furlong horses, but we are looking forward to a great day out."

Pat Eddery has moved to clear up riding arrangements for his outsider, Hearts Of Fire. Olivier Peslier was on board for his three victories overseas last season, including the Group One Gran Criterium at San Siro.

However, Stephane Pasquier will now ride the son of Firebreak, with Peslier likely to be needed in France by his retained owners.

Meanwhile, Criquette Head-Maarek has admitted to having stamina doubts ahead of Special Duty's run in Sunday's 1,000 Guineas. Winter favourite for the Classic, the filly was beaten on her return to action this year in the Prix Imprudence but came through her final gallop with flying colours on Tuesday.

While Head-Maarek has no doubts that her charge will improve from that, she does confess to being unsure whether Prince Khalid Abdullah's filly will see out the trip. "Good horses lose their prep races all the time but they are still good horses, the question mark will be the distance," said Head-Maarek.

Champion jockey Ryan Moore was at Mick Channon's yard to get himself acquainted with his mount Music Show as the Nell Gwyn winner worked with three others over seven furlongs.

"Everything went good. Ryan sat on her for the first time and was very pleased with the filly," said Channon.

Richard Hills was successful on Ghanaati 12 months ago and believes he has a good chance of following up on Marcus Tregoning's Feilden Stakes winner Rumoush.

"I went down to Marcus' this morning, it was just an exercise gallop to see how she'd come out of her run two weeks ago and I thought she looked fantastic," said Hills.

Irish Independent

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