King George a possibility for ‘none the worse’ Ektihaam

Roger Varian is considering a return to Ascot for the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes with Ektihaam after reporting the colt “none the worse” following a nasty slip at the track on Saturday.

King George a possibility for ‘none the worse’ Ektihaam

Following a most impressive display over the course and distance in the Buckhounds Stakes, Ektihaam was the 9-4 favourite for the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes and was bowling along at the head of affairs until slipping up almost a mile from home.

Jockey Paul Hanagan was flung into the rails, but escaped serious injury, while the winner, Thomas Chippendale, suffered a fatal heart attack after passing the post.

Varian admits the fact both horse and rider are fine is a result in itself, but the trainer is left wondering what might have been given Ektihaam had comprehensively beaten Thomas Chippendale at the track a month earlier.

Varian said: “He seems A1 this morning and hopefully he’s none the worse. You have to try to keep things in perspective when you see what happened to the winner and the main thing is our horse is in one piece and so is Paul.

“It was a nasty incident and could have been an awful lot worse.

“However, when you sideline all that, it is extremely disappointing and frustrating.

“When you consider we beat the winner by six lengths the time before, I’m not saying we would have done the same again, but form doesn’t normally turn around that much and in effect we had six lengths to play with.

“We’ll see how he comes out of the race as it would have been quite a shock for the horse. He did extremely well to stand up.

“We won’t run him again until we’re 100% happy with him. He’s in the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket and later on the King George.

“The King George wouldn’t be completely off the radar. When you look at his form, he ran Al Kazeem very close at Sandown and he’s won two Group Ones since and he’s beaten the horse that won the Hardwicke by six lengths.

“I don’t think we’d be talking off the wall looking at the King George and it wouldn’t be ruled out.

“We’ll just make sure he’s physically and mentally right before we do anything. We won’t rush him back.”

Clive Brittain meanwhile is confident Rizeena will develop into a Classic contender following her impressive victory in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Already winner at the Berkshire track and at Sandown this season, the daughter of Iffraaj completed a hat-trick with victory in Wednesday’s five-furlong Group Two.

Although she has yet to race beyond the minimum distance, Brittain has no doubt his charge will stay further, with the seven-furlong Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh on September 1 next on her agenda.

Brittain is better placed than most when it comes to assessing top-class fillies, with brilliant 1000 Guineas heroines Pebbles (1984) and Sayyedati (1993) among those to have passed through his hands.

Brittain said: “She’s come out of the race extremely well. She lost 11 kilos and she’s put all but three of them back on already, which is amazing really.

“She had a big day, but it doesn’t appear to have taken much out of her and I couldn’t be more pleased with how she has taken the race.

“I’ve always had a high opinion of her and the way she’s worked at home with horses like Miblish told us she was pretty special.

“It’s always nice to see them go and do it on the track. She’s progressing all the time and I think she’s a very exciting filly.

“The plan is to go to Ireland for the Moyglare and then come back for the Cheveley Park, which is what we did with Sayyedati.

“I think she will stay the seven furlongs (in the Moyglare). She was never stronger than she was in the last 50 yards in the Queen Mary and won going away.”

Currently owned by Sheikh Rashid Dalmook Al Maktoum, Rizeena has inevitably been linked with a possible switch to Sheikh Mohammed’s powerful Godolphin stable, but Brittain is just keen to carry on doing his job to the best of his ability. When asked about the possibility of losing the filly, the trainer said: “I never worry about things that are out of my control.”

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