Hukum beat 2022 Derby winner Desert Crown to land the Group Three Racehorse Lotto Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown Park on Thursday evening.
Hukum (5-1) had not seen a racecourse since enjoying his finest hour when winning the Group One DahlBury Coronation Cup almost a year ago, while Desert Crown was also making his first start since Epsom Downs.
It was Desert Crown who went to the front a furlong and a half from home and he looked to have the contest in safe keeping as he quickened impressively to go clear. Hukum, meanwhile, had not enjoyed the clearest of passages in behind and still had plenty to do entering the final furlong. However, the six year old kept finding for Jim Crowley and gradually reeled in Desert Crown to get up and win by half a length in the famous blue and while Shadwell silks.
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Winning trainer Owen Burrows said: “I’m a bit speechless as I didn’t envisage that sort of performance. Jim had touched on it a few times this year when he had ridden him work that he felt a bit quicker this year. It looks like he has developed a bit of speed from somewhere.
“I just felt he needed a couple of gallops last week because he was so well as such that I didn’t want him to come too fresh. It has worked out brilliant. I felt this would be our prep run for the Hardwicke.
“It is vital he has good ground if it was the fast side of good we would have to have a think. I’ve always said he is not a slow horse. I know he has won over a mile and six but he has always shown speed at home. We might have to have a re-think maybe but at the moment I don’t see the plans changing too much. We were only a pound below him (Desert Crown) on ratings.
“Plenty have come back from an injury like his but he was a five year old that had just won a Group One and I didn’t think it would be in the realms that he could come back. Sheikha Hissa very sportingly said if his rehab goes well we will send him back to you so fair play to her.
“To get a Group win over a mile and a quarter adds to his CV a bit as he probably got pigeonholed a bit as a slow horse. As Jim mentioned, it is vitally important there is nice good safe ground and credit to Andrew (Cooper, Clerk of the Course at Sandown Park), he has produced that for us today. I was a little concerned. I walked the full mile and a quarter and I had a bit of sweat and a blow. Richard Hills rang me three down and said I hope Hukum is fitter than you! I’d come on for a few runs I think!
“It was important to get a run into him today as there are not a lot of options left before Royal Ascot and as I touched on he has been so well and full of it. He is not a hooligan but he is so bullish. He was ready to go and it was important to get that run into him. If we couldn’t have got that run in we would have had to have gone for a racecourse gallop.
“He was my first Royal Ascot winner. He went to Dubai and won on Super Saturday which was massive for us. He was my first Group One winner. I will find it hard to replace him when the time comes when he does head off to stud. He has been a star for the whole team and is an absolute legend.”
Winning jockey Jim Crowley added: “Owen has got him back and it is a hell of a training performance from everybody involved with Shadwell. He is just a proper horse and hopefully he can add to his Group One tally.
“He (Desert Crown) got first run on me. It was a mile and a quarter and things weren’t really in our favour. I think when he goes back up to a mile and a half he is just as good if not better. It was nice to see him win like that over 10 furlongs.
“To come back is testament to the horse. I don’t know how many Group races he has won now. When he gets that toe in a bit he is an absolute machine. To pick a Derby winner up like he did (was impressive). In fairness we were boxed in but by being boxed in we were always filling up with petrol hence why he could pick him up. I wouldn’t rule it out (staying over 10 furlongs). I’d love to see him in a King George in the summer, a wet King George, as I think that would be his thing. It is nice to get him back.”
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Desert Crown, said: “He was a little ring rusty. He looked as if he had his race won but he just tied up in the closing stages but he has been a year off which is a long time. I don’t know (where we go next) but there are two races he is in (at Royal Ascot) but we are not making a decision yet.”
Bruce Raymond, racing manager to Desert Crown’s owner Saeed Suhail, said: “I think he probably needed it as he had a good blow. Everything was smooth. He went there and did everything right. He doesn’t know the winner was stuck in behind but he has done everything right. Obviously he is going to improve.”
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