Shalaa strikes on return to maintain winning run

Shalaa: is being geared up for a crack at British Champions Day

PICTURE: Mark Cranham ( Shalaa slams rivals to maintain winning run
By Stuart Riley 3:08PM 1 OCT 2016

Report: Ascot, Saturday

John Guest Bengough Stakes (Group 3) 6f, 3yo+

LAST season's leading British-trained two-year-old, the dual Group 1 winner Shalaa, made a belated but winning return to the racecourse for an all-the-way success under a delighted Frankie Dettori.

Shalaa was off the track for over a year after a hairline fracture to his pelvis in April derailed plans. But John Gosden and Al Shaqab Racing persisted with the colt who is off to stud at the end of the season, forming a new plan based around the Group 1 6f sprint on British Champions Day.

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This was a major stepping stone towards that target and one the three-year-old, who had not been sighted since landing last year's Middle Park 371 days ago, passed with flying colours.

Dettori bounced his mount out and led all the way, travelling strongly and then just doing enough to hold off the challenge of Mehronissa to win a shade cosily and justify 7-4 favouritism.

"We would love to have been in the Commonwealth Cup and July Cup but it was not to be and we have been fortunate to have this prep race for two weeks time," said Gosden.

"He was just full of himself and I told Frankie he was carrying his stick just for balance – not to use it. He will come back for the Champion Sprint but we know softer ground compromises a horse who is all about pure speed."

Dettori, after his customary flying dismount, added: "What is most pleasing is he hasn't lost his zest. I have ridden him a couple of times at home and he is very lazy in the morning. He blew up today."

Shalaa was cut for the Qipco Champions Sprint. He is as short as 5-1 but a best-priced 8-1 with Sky Bet.

Ed Vaughan said of the runner-up: "She was just a little wide and when she got close to the winner she stayed on again. The ground is probably too soft for her and her action did not look as good on it. She's been fourth on a Group 1 and now only just beaten in a Group 3, which is fantastic.

"I've got her in the [Grade 1] Nearctic Stakes in Canada which would be the perfect race for her but it's only a couple of weeks away and might come too soon. We might convince the owners to keep her in training for another season now and she's got plenty of size and scope."

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