Hukum is on the Classic trail as his connections anticipate the potential for further improvement up in trip again for next week’s Pertemps St Leger.
Owen Burrows’ colt has an exemplary record in his two runs this season, following a Royal Ascot handicap success first time out by graduating to master Group Three company in last month’s Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, acknowledges the next step up to Group One level is another steep challenge, but one which Hukum deserves to be set – albeit at only his fifth career attempt.
He has been beaten only once, when third on debut at Newbury last September, and has made giant strides since to press St Leger market leaders Pyledriver and Santiago at the top of the bookmakers’ ante-post lists.
“He’s fine, and we’re hoping to go to the Leger,” said Gold.
“He’s progressing very well, (and) I was impressed with him at Newbury the other day.”
As at Ascot, Hukum showed his battling qualities and stamina – this time to get the better of Max Vega by two and a half lengths, suggesting the extra distance of the St Leger and Doncaster’s testing straight will hold no fears.
“It’s an extra furlong, but I don’t see that being a problem,” added Gold.
“We’ll see whether he’s up to that sort of company when he does go up in trip.”
Gold also confirmed high-profile targets for two more of Sheikh Hamdan’s emerging stars – Gimcrack winner Minzaal and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender Raabihah.
Minzaal, also trained by Burrows, was an impressive winner at York on only his third career start – overcoming a slow start to demonstrate his six-furlong speed as he took the historic Group Two convincingly.
The Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes, over the same distance at Newmarket later this month, has been mentioned by his trainer as the juvenile’s next target – and that remains the plan.
“It will be Middle Park certainly, all being well,” said Gold.
“It was a step up from his maiden (win) at Salisbury – and being slow into his stride, he won really quite nicely in the end.
“He’s always worked like a nice horse – they’ve always thought he was decent. He’s done everything right, and he’s got a fantastic attitude.
“It will be very interesting to see where we are with him.”
Raabihah may well vindicate trainer Jean-Claude Rouget’s high opinion of her by booking her place to take on Enable et al in the Arc at ParisLongchamp next month.
To do so, though, she must first prove she merits that challenge – having won three of her four career starts in France up to Group Three level and 11 furlongs to date.
She could manage only a half-length fourth in the French Oaks at Chantilly in July, but regained the winning habit with ease at Deauville early last month – and is due to test her Arc credentials over course and distance in Group One class next weekend.
Gold said: “On to the Vermeille first of all, and then we hope – if all goes well – on to the Arc.
“It’s one step at a time, but that’s the plan, if she’s in good form and if she comes through the Vermeille well.”