TRAINER Owen Burrows reported promising two-year-old prospect, Shabaaby, to be showing the right signs ahead of the Listed highlight of York’s Saturday card, the coral.co.uk Rockingham Stakes.
The two-year-old colt, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, is the highest-rated horse in the entry for the six-furlong black type race, following consecutive winning runs.
Shabaaby, who has an official ‘mark’ of 109, enjoyed a pipe-opener earlier today under jockey Dane O’Neill. Connections will be hoping that the exercise will help prime him for his weekend assignment in the £50,000 race on the Knavesmire.
Lambourn-based Burrows is at the Sales in Newmarket but confirmed: “Dane has ridden him this morning. I spoke to Dane and he was very happy.
“Shabaaby had a little bit of work at home on the grass and seems in good form.”
The son of Kyllachy was given his lofty rating after he won a conditions race by seven lengths at Doncaster’s St Leger Festival.
That was his second successive victory, following a novices’ race at Newmarket in mid-August.
He had previously run third on his debut two months earlier at Salisbury behind subsequent stakes stars Nyaleti and Billesdon Brook.
Lambourn-based Burrows said: “I came away from Salisbury slightly disappointed but it was Nyaleti that beat him and a horse of Richard Hannon’s was second – they’re both Group winners now!
“Shabaaby has always been a horse that I’ve liked and Dane was very impressed with him at Newmarket. He probably didn’t beat a lot but he picked up well – and he looked to go forward again at Doncaster. There wasn’t a big field – he only had three to beat – but the way he did it was impressive.
“It slightly surprised me that they rated him as high as 109. But I did read somewhere that they’d graded it as the best two-year-old performance out of Pattern company this year. Whether that was to do with speed figures or whatever, I don’t honestly know.
“But it has given us no option but to go into Listed class with that rating. Even if he was rated low 100s I think we would still be looking to go in a Listed race – it seems the natural progression.
“I’m looking forward to running him again. He has proven (on his last two starts) he handles soft ground, so we’re not having to be on weather watch.”
As for the longer term, Burrows believes that his charge has scope for physical progression.
He added: “He might not grow upwards but I think he’ll fill out and strengthen. Touch wood, that can only mean improvement. He certainly doesn’t just look a two-year-old type – put it that way.”
The most valuable contest on the final day of the York season is the £100,000 Coral Sprint Trophy.