Connections of the Roger Charlton-trained European galloper Al Kazeem have all but ruled out a trip down under for the spring’s 2013 Cox Plate.
Instead they are now leaning towards a shot at France’s iconic Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the first Sunday of October following Al Kazeem’s impressive victory in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (2000m) at Royal Ascot.
The talented Dubawi stallion posted their sixth turf triumph at start number 11 on day two of the famous Royal Ascot Racing Carnival in the UK becoming double elite level champion adding the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes trophy to that previously won at The Curragh in the Tattersall’s Gold Cup.
Unbeaten since May last year, albeit spending nearly 12 months on the sidelines in an injury enforced year-long break, Al Kazeem was last week one of 20 international horses officially invited by the Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) to race in this year’s $3 million Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate (2040m) on October 26.
“We had to be patient with him last season and he has progressed further than I ever thought he would,” Charlton said.
Rated as a $26 chance in the futures Cox Plate odds owners were giving serious thought to accepting the invitation too with the distance, weight-for-age conditions and prize money all very enticing.
While yet to formerly rule out the Cox Plate it is looking more likely that after their Royal Ascot success they will target Europe’s leading middle-distance feature, the Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) at Longchamp.
“I am very privileged to be invited to the Cox Plate,” former flat racing jockey Charlton, 63, told racingvictoria.net.au.
“It is a great invite but it is a big ask for the horse and I am not Luca Cumani with his record at travelling horses.
“As I say, it is an honour to be asked, but I don’t think we will be going (to Melbourne).
“There are a lot of lovely races and without discussing with the owners I don’t know where next.
“Like most people I’d love to have a runner in the Arc and if we go there maybe the King George would be next.
“I do think the Arc is the best race and would love to win it.”
Prior to the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes Al Kazeem’s career highlights included a four and a half length victory over the now Peter Moody-trained My Quest For Peace in the Group 2 Qatar Bloodstock Jockey Club Stakes (2414m) at Newmarket in May last year where 2011 Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden was nearly sixth lengths away third in, the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes (2018m) first-up at Sandown this April and of course their Group 1 Tattersall’s Gold Cup success over last year’s Epsom Derby winner Camelot.
Aidan O’Brien’s Montjeu four-year-old (in Europe) Camelot was again defeated by Al Kazeem in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes finishing fourth, the fellow Cox Plate invitee paying $21 to win the WFA championship should they decide to run.
Finishing off the Princes Of Wales’s Stakes trifecta was then Mukhardram a neck away second and the John Gosden-trained mare The Fugue who was three lengths further back again.
A multiple Group 1 performing daughter of Dansili, The Fugue was also invited to the Cox Plate by the MVRC but is far from confirmed as targeting the spring showdown.
“I have not discussed with her owners where she will run for the rest of the season – we wanted to get today out of the way first and take it from there,” Gosden said.
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