Head-Maarek plays down Gold’s hopes

CRIQUETTE HEAD-MAAREK has a strong family record to defend but is not expecting Full Of Gold to overturn hot favourite New Approach in Saturday’s Emirates Airline Champion Stakes.

Head-Maarek’s father Alec Head, who owns the colt, trained two winners of the 10-furlong contest in Hafiz II (1955) and Rose Royale II (1957), while his daughter was responsible for the 1993 heroine Hatoof.

French trainers in general do very well in the Champion Stakes – the last two renewals have been taken back across the Channel – and Andre Fabre’s Russian Cross occupies a prominent position in the betting.

Full Of Gold, a Group One winner as a two-year-old in 2007, has a bit to find despite making a winning return to action in the Prix Noailles at Longchamp in April.

Well beaten in his next three starts, he looked better when runner-up in the La Coupe de Maisons-Laffitte in late September.

Head-Maarek, whose African Rose won the rescheduled Sprint Cup at Doncaster as another Group One for the stable, said: “Full Of Gold ran very well at Maisons-Laffitte last time. I think the reason why he ran poorly earlier this year is that he doesn’t really like Longchamp.

“Although he did win a Group Two there at the beginning of the year, he doesn’t go down the hill very well and is not happy there. The horse is fine at the moment although it’s going to be difficult to come and beat New Approach.

“As long as he runs well, I will be very pleased.

“The ground should be fine for him. That won’t be the excuse. Dominique Boeuf takes the ride.”

Jamie Spencer will attempt to help trainer Brian Meehan and owner David Sullivan land the race for a second time since 2005.

David Junior carried the silks of Sullivan’s Roldvale company to victory three years ago and they recently bought a share of City Leader, who is still also part-owned by the Sangster Family.

Last year’s Racing Post Trophy runner-up has endured a few near-misses this season, getting close to two of his likely rivals Twice Over and Russian Cross in the Prix Eugene Adam and Prix Guillaume d’Ornano respectively.

He was back in France again last time with a fourth-placed finish to the smart Vision D’Etat in the Prix Niel at Longchamp.

“The plan is to run and Jamie went over to Brian’s last week to sit on the horse,” said Eamonn Connolly, racing manager to Sullivan, who is the co-owner of Birmingham City Football Club.

“The ground has been far too quick for him a couple of times this season and he has also had bad luck in running in France.

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