AQLAAM will bid to show his younger rivals the way home in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot tomorrow.
After turning in placed efforts in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville, the Willie Haggas-trained four-year-old hit the bullseye in Group One company with an authoritative display in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp.
Angus Gold, racing manager for owner Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, reports the colt to have taken those exertions well and although he is forced concede weight to the likes of Delegator and Rip Van Winkle at the weekend, Gold is hoping for the best.
“Everything is fine with the horse as far as I know. William seems very happy with him and he’s in good form,” said Gold.
“I spoke to him earlier in the week and he says the horse is moving well so we’ll see what happens.
“The ground should be fine for him as we think he wants faster ground, so we can’t complain about that.
“He obviously handled cut in the ground at Longchamp last time but we do think he is more effective on a quicker surface.
“It’s a very tough race but that’s what you expect at Group One level.
“I’m never confident but we’re looking forward to it.”
Five horses have been declared for the Sony-sponsored contest, but just four are likely to go to post with Aidan O’Brien only declaring Mastercraftsman as a back-up to preferred runner Rip Van Winkle.
In view of this, Coral have decided to make Rip Van Winkle their 8-11 market-leader and have omitted his stable companion from the betting.
Spokesman Simon Clare said: “The declaration of Mastercraftsman took everyone by surprise but, on the assumption that he is only in the race as a precaution, we have decided to ”bet without“ him and focus on the intended runners.
“Should Rip Van Winkle be replaced by Mastercraftsman, we would apply a Rule 4 to this market, and then open a new book with Mastercraftsman in the contest.
“It’s not perfect, but it seems the fairest and most logical way to proceed under the circumstances.”
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes betting
Coral: 8-11 Rip Van Winkle, 15-8 Delegator, 15-2 Aqlaam, 25-1 Zacinto.
Ladbrokes: 4-5 Rip Van Winkle, 9-4 Delegator, 11-2 Aqlaam, 16-1 Zacinto, SP Mastercraftsman.
William Hill: 5-6 Rip Van Winkle, 11-4 Delegator, 6-1 Mastercraftsman, 7-1 Aqlaam, 20-1 Zacinto.
Cashmans: 8-11 Rip Van Winkle, 9-4 Delegator, 5 Aqlaam, 16 Zacinto
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved