Hukum moved a significant step nearer giving trainer Owen Burrows his first runner in the St Leger with an impressive success in the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
The lightly-raced son of Sea The Stars had little trouble in backing up his King George V Stakes success from Royal Ascot in the Group Three contest over a mile and five furlongs – always travelling well just off the pace before ranging up alongside Max Vega just over a furlong out.
Once in the clear, the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt quickly put daylight between himself and the field under Jim Crowley to cross the line two and a half lengths clear of the game Max Vega.
Burrows said of his 4-1 scorer: “Jim said he travelled very well, but they didn’t go very quick. He did mention that he thought he would be better going a bit quicker. He was just very impressive.
“He had never run on soft ground and until they run on it there is always that little worry will they handle it – but he handled it fine. He is strengthening as the year goes on and is very exciting.”
Hukum was introduced at 12-1 for next month’s final Classic at Doncaster by William Hill, while having initially gone the same price Paddy Power quickly cut him to 10-1 for a race which will now come under serious consideration.
Burrows said: “I don’t think he will go too much further, but there is the St Leger which has been spoken about. He has got a bit of speed. I don’t think we are necessarily talking about a proper staying horse. I don’t see him as a cup horse at all.
“I will speak with Sheikh Hamdan, Angus (Gold) and Richard (Hills) and make a plan. It is great to have one like him.”
Though Hukum’s latest victory may have only been a Group Three, the Lambourn handler believes he is up there with the best he has trained.
He said: “I was very fortunate early on to have Massaat who was placed in a 2000 Guineas, placed in another Group One and won a Group Two here. For the mile-and-a-half-type of horses he would certainly be up there with the best. Laraaib won a Cumberland Lodge, but this horse has got a bit of class about him.
“When I spoke to Sheikh Hamdan after Royal Ascot he was mindful that this horse will be even better next year.”