Shalaa all set for Ascot return

Views from connections ahead of the John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Shalaa: Makes eagerly-awaited comeback

Shalaa makes his eagerly-awaited comeback in the John Guest Bengough Stakes at Ascot on Saturday after being sidelined for 12 months.

Connections of the John Gosden-trained colt are delighted to have him back on a racecourse after he suffered a pelvic injury when being prepared for what was hoped would be another successful campaign.

Shalaa won his last four starts as a two-year-old culminating with Group One glory in the Prix Morny and Middle Park Stakes.

Should Shalaa come through his seasonal debut unscathed then he is likely to return to Ascot for the Group One Qipco British Champions Sprint on October 15.

"It's great to see him back. John's very happy with him and we all know it's been a long time off," said Harry Herbert, racing manager to owners Al Shaqab Racing.

"It was a pretty nasty injury, but it says so much for all those around him, John and his team, and also Duncan Moir, who is Al Shaqab's vet, who have done so much to get him back and get back to a scenario where we are going to see him in action again.

"For quite a long while it looked highly unlikely."

Herbert went on: "It's all about a fortnight's time. That's the key thing. I hope very much he will win and run a big race, but this is trying to put him absolutely spot on for the Champions Day Sprint.

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"We are all very happy."

Marco Botti is praying Ascot misses the bulk of the forecast showers to aid Naadirr's cause.

"There are showers forecast but I hope they don't get too much rain," said the Newmarket trainer.

"He's very consistent and ran well last time at Newmarket when the race didn't really pan out for him.

"A stiff six furlongs is ideal for him and he has run a few good races at Ascot in the past, it suits him.

"As long as it's not soft he should run well."

In contrast, Eric Alston would not mind the rain for Ridge Ranger, who was third to Cotai Glory over the minimum trip at Newbury last time but was a Group Three scorer over this distance at York in July.

"She ran a good race at Newbury. That was over five furlongs and she stays six," said the Preston trainer.

"We're hoping for a bit of luck. It looks a tough race. I suppose it depends on how John Gosden's horse is.

"She's in great order and a bit of rain would help. She always runs her race. She's as genuine as anything."

Mehronissa defeated Ridge Ranger by three-quarters of a length in a Listed contest at Ponetfract when in receipt of 7lb.

She was then supplemented for the Group One 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock and ran a fine race to finish fourth to Quiet Reflection.

"She's in great form. I was pleased with her work last week and she should run right up to form," said trainer Ed Vaughan.

"Obviously Shalaa is the one to beat. I'm sure it will be a prep run for him, but because he's a proven Group One horse it should be enough to win, you'd imagine."

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