11 July


TRAINER Hamad Al-Jehani is hoping Royal Ascot runner-up Haunted Dream,  can find the winner’s circle in this Saturday’s John Smith’s Cup, at York Racecourse.

The five-year-old that runs in the colours of Wathnan Racing,  is joint-favourite for the 65th staging of the famous extended mile and a quarter Heritage Handicap, which carries a total prize fund of £200,000.

 It will be the gelding’s second run over course and distance. Last August, when trained by Ed Dunlop, he finished third to Astro King at the Sky Bet Ebor Festival.

 Subsequently, Haunted Dream was recruited by the Qatari-based owners headed by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.

Haunted Dream has had four starts in 2024, including last month’s Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot,  in which he finished just over three lengths back from the impressive Israr.

Trainer  Al-Jehani, who operates a select string of six from fellow trainer Tom Clover’s stables in Newmarket, said: “It was a good performance at Royal Ascot. We finished second, we didn’t win, but we had a nice performance from him.

“He was beaten by a nice horse. I was very pleased with him. He finished second in a Listed race and printed his name as black-type horse, so we were very happy. 

“It was the plan before that to go to the John Smith’s. He finished third (at York) last year with his previous trainer. If he can show a similar performance, hopefully we will have a nice chance there.”

 With Wathnan’s retained rider, James Doyle, required at Newmarket, jockey Daniel Muscutt is set to reacquaint with Haunted Dream. Muscutt, who has partnered the horse in a string of previous races, booted him to back-to-back wins in 2022. 

Al-Jehani, a prominent trainer in his native Qatar, registered his first victory on UK soil when Make Me King won a £50,000 handicap at Newcastle on June 29.

 He added: “We are really excited to go to York with a nice horse for the first time. It’s really important for us. Hopefully we will have a nice experience.”

 Yorkshireman William Haggas has tasted John Smith’s Cup success on three previous occasions, thanks to Green Destiny (2011), Danchai (2013) and Sinjaari (2020). This year his Newmarket stable will be represented by Remaadd and Kingfisher King.

Trainer Roger Varian, who won the race with Farraaj in 2014, is also double-handed with Botanical and Enfjaar.

Astro King was runner-up in the 2023 renewal of the John Smith’s Cup and is back for another crack, albeit some 12lb higher in the handicap and carrying top weight.

Saturday’s seven-race card starts at 2pm with the John Smith’s Racing Handicap. 

10 July


Rod Millman is hoping to plunder another prestigious prize at York Racecourse when Adaay In Devon contests the Group 3 William Hill Summer Stakes, this Friday.

The Devon trainer won a series of a top races – including the Sky Bet Ebor Handicap – on the Knavesmire with popular staying star, Sergeant Cecil. Indeed, that summer of 2005 saw the yard and its hero horse land all of the Northumberland Plate, Ebor and Cesarewitch in a rare run of handicap dominance. The Sergeant Cecil love affair with the Knavesmire saw him return to capture both the Group 2 Boodles Yorkshire Cup and Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup.  Looking at a record of success in July at York, Millman also saddled Master Carpenter ahead of his victory in the 2015 renewal of the John Smith’s Cup.

Now he has his sights set on the £85,000 sprint for his improving star, Adaay In Devon.

The daughter of Adaay proved a useful two-year-old in 2023, notching up four victories. And she has retained her progressive profile by winning a further three races as a three-year-old.

Her latest triumph arrived in Listed company at Sandown in June, when she struck by a head, in the hands of her regular jockey Silvestre De Sousa.

Millman said: “At the start of the season, as she’d had such a successful season last year and had a handicap rating of 95, I did think she might struggle this year because of her mark. But she’s proved me wrong. she keeps improving every time we run her. She has won two Listed races and a valuable handicap and been placed in a Group 3. She keeps pulling out a little bit more.

“She’s had a nice break, a few weeks off, and has come back training very well. I took her for an away gallop last weekend – one of my fellow trainers here, Stuart Kittow, has got one of the best gallops around. It was just somewhere different to go and it did her good. She did a nice bit of work just to put her straight and I’m looking forward to a very good run. She likes soft ground, so any rain at York is a benefit to us.

“As far as I know, Silvestre rides our filly. I think he thinks quite a bit of her, so he wanted to go to York to ride her. They suit each other very well. he’s a very good jockey and she’s a very tenacious filly. She’s got the right attitude. there’s a lot of morning glory horses that work well at home and don’t do it on the track. whereas she produces it on the track every time.”

Millman also confirmed a large contingent from Adaay In Devon’s Horniwinks syndicate will be making the trip north. He also confirmed that the ownership group are named after a south-west vernacular reference for lapwings, a bird seen in farmland fields, as well as by stretches of water 

Millman said: “I think’s six people – a lot of them are in the farming industry. It all started off talking in the pub; one of the guys put it to them, ‘We ought to get a syndicate up’. the original plan was to buy something to go National Hunt racing in the west country.”   

They ended up with bargain buy Favourite Girl, a Listed-placed sprint filly, who came with a foal at foot – Devon Envoy. He went on to win three times for Millman and next came his half-sister Adaay In Devon and the rest is history.

Millman said: “She is the first horse ever to win four Yearling Bonuses – that was 80 grand. She was Listed-placed at two and then this year she’s just improved again. So, it’s quite a story, really.”

The six-furlong William Hill Summer Stakes for three-year-old and upwards fillies and mares is the highlight of Friday’s seven-race card, which commences at 2.05pm. The card precedes the 65th running of the John Smith’s Cup, which will be staged on Saturday at York.